Perhaps—a poem about death and the noosphere

Photo of sunrise over Wellington, New Zealand

Sunrise over Wellington. Is this what the noosphere looks like? A muscle of live particles combining in a cosmic consciousness? A global microbiome evolved from the virtuous particles of human souls?


Perhaps when I die
my me, my who
my one, my I
distils in minds
and memories
of those who stay behind.

And when we die
perhaps our spirit
The I of we splits
and scatters
into the we of I

into specks of sun
in a wraparound sky
calling on rice to grow
singing tough
calling on us to share
our plenty, our enough.

What does happen to us when we die? Nobody knows, but we persist in speculating. The inspired theories of Jesuit priest-paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin had irresistible appeal from the moment I read The Phenomenon of Man 40 years ago and more. Its metaphysical eloquence swept me away. He makes connections between Christianity, quantum physics and Darwin’s theory of evolution, although they are more poetic than scientific. At the time I was struggling to reconcile patriarchal theology with my own beliefs and Chardin’s starry-eyed optimism brought a few years’ relief. We poets are suckers for such stuff. Thank you, Pierre.

CC BY 2.0 me, Rachel McAlpine

Wikipedia on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

14 thoughts on “Perhaps—a poem about death and the noosphere

  1. 1rhymescheme says:

    ‘The I of we splits/ and scatters/ into the we of I’

    I love the idea and the imagery of this.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yes, so do I. It’s impossible but comforting and inspiring too.

  2. I love this!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I’m glad. It all depends on what you bring to it as a reader.

  3. JOY journal says:

    Encephalitis nearly took my life when I was 22. Too weak to pray or even think very much, I was completely aware of God’s presence in the hospital room. It was tangible. I have never experienced anything quite like that since, but it did a lot to squash my uncertainties about death. There are more things about death (and life) that cannot be explained than can — something every poet knows and every worthy theologian should know. 🙂 Blessings, Rachel!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s something that would stay with you forever.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Who knows. But I trust that the same love that brought us here will greet us at the end.

    1. Gallivanta says:

      I hope so, too. And I am almost ready to trust so.

  5. Beautiful poem. One for me to add to poems I save to read again. And again.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s special— thank you.

  6. albert says:

    Perhaps. And perhaps
    some who like driving can merge
    but stay in their own cars.

    Of course my image doesn’t fit
    with your beautiful concluding stanza,
    in which, for me, God is the sun.

    It’s just that I have difficulty picturing
    a person as unique as you, me, everyone–
    splitting and shattering.

    So the highway image gives me hope
    of getting there in one piece.


    And thanks for providing a point of view
    — in a very pleasing way–
    and for stimulating a spirited reflection.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Imagining myself stripped of individuality is the only way I can do it. But good luck with the car.

  7. Jina Bazzar says:

    i loved this. I read it twice. And yeah, I love things that are explained like poetry too.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s great. I have finally realized that a human chat with a poem is a gift, not a sign of cognitive weakness.