“Cool.” That precious word drops so easily from their gabbing lips.
I hear it often as they pass beneath me, cutting through my long shadow on the noble path: tomorrow’s promise, hurrying to lectures at Queen’s.
The studious ones are up early, working towards degrees; others are homeward-weaving to the Holy Lands: freshers, reeking of cheap drink.
Once at Halloween they dressed me with horns, and placed the Devil’s pitchfork in my hand.
You noticed me then.
The jape lasted over a day, until finally the warden of the Botanic Gardens climbed a ladder and restored order.
I went up to college as a boy, my first decade barely over me, and finished in Westminster, where I was interred next to Newton.
They call me the Father of Modern Physics; scientific units carry my name.
A staunch defender of the Union, I became Victoria’s baron; I was professor and prize winner, compass-maker, cable-layer, child prodigy, devout Presbyterian.
Look up at me, scholars. I wasn’t dull. I partied too: sculled at Peterhouse, played the cornopean. Played the field.
Yachting offshore Madeira I signalled my second-wife-to-be the question; she flashed back “yes” from the shore.
In College Square East they made my childhood home a cinema. It’s demolished now, the Kelvin Picture Palace; bombed out in 71.
Look up at me. Look. Ignore the robes, the stupid inscription, the bow tie. See the half-smile? I’m way beyond cool: I’m Absolute Zero.
Jason O’Rourke is a writer and musician based in Belfast. His short stories and poetry have been published online and in print, as well as on his blog, ‘Vernacularisms.’ Jason has recently been nominated for a ‘Best of the Net’ award and won the Fiddler’s Elbow (Rome) short story competition. He is the recipient of an Arts Council NI Artist Career Enhancement Scheme Award. Jason’s Irish translations are available at http://vernacularismsgaeilege.wordpress.com/, you can find him on Twitter @jasonoruairc and on Facebook.