Transubstantiation by Judith Skillman


Nothing more than the accelerator
at Cern, seven-mile tunnel in the earth,
protons traveling almost at the speed of light,
voilà. Top quark, alpha god particle
said they would be there, though makes no sense.
Blood & bread. Take, this is my. . .
Not more mysterious than something
a millionth the size of a proton.
Physicists explain how it will act, react.
They say with a flourish what they don’t
understand. PhDs argue online in secret
chats where the one defensible
posture remains: ungovernable
squirm of subatomic world, wafer.

Judith Skillman is a dual citizen of the US and Canada, and lives in Newcastle, Washington. Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, Threepenny Review, Zyzzyva, and other literary journals. She is the recipient of awards from Academy of American Poets and Artist Trust. Her recent collection is A Landscaped Garden for the Addict, Shanti Arts Press, 2021. Visit

Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: This is an American sonnet and the complementing image of a typical CMS* event displaying the Higgs boson decaying to four leptons with 2 muons (in red) and 2 electrons (in green) as final state signatures. The event was recorded with the CMS detector in 2012 at a proton-proton center of mass energy of 8 TeV. The event shows characteristics expected from the decay of the SM Higgs boson to a pair of photons (dashed yellow lines and green towers). (Image: CERN)

* The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) is a general-purpose detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It has a broad physics program ranging from studying the Standard Model (including the Higgs boson) to searching for extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter.