Poets for Science
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The Shadow of Time

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The International System of Units has defined a second as 9, 192, 631, 770 cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two energy levels of the caesium-133 atom.

 

The star glares through the glass;

A frozen lake between two mountains;

The world turns on its spine as it has for billions of years.

 

What’s a year?

 

An accretion of eddies within a vast storm,

An endless trek, but more than the distance

Between two points, a resonance we feel compelled to track,

First with arrays of stone, then with falling grains of sand

And complex contraptions of wheels within wheels,

The heartbeat of liquid crystal, the adumbrations of an atom.

 

I listen to what the geese tell me as they form a V in retreat,

The toad as he descends to his muddy rest,

The perennials as they retract beneath the frost,

The empty symmetry of a hornet’s nest,

And the choir of whales fleeing in the deep.

 

They all return like the tides, so tethered to the sun and moon,

While we chop at time with a pendulous blade,

Doomed to live in its shadow.