Posts Tagged ‘physics’

Saying Goodbye

To say goodbye to one person you love
is to say goodbye to part of yourself.

I must have them, you think. You think,
I can never be whole without them.

But in that gap of the fabric, that tear made of love,
is a place you can climb into at any time

and know the true shape of yourself, which is infinite.
Sometimes it takes the sharp ache of loss

to feel into the truth of our interconnectedness,
to know what the quantum physicists know—

how woven we are with each other,
with the universe,

how woven we are with all that is living
and all that is what we call dead.

Though it’s science, it’s also a kind of faith.
And it’s dark. And it’s sweet. And it’s beautiful,

and it’s terrifying, this thread that reminds us
just how much we belong to the rest of the world,

this thread we can’t untie even if we want to,
this thread that tethers us to one another, to eternity.

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Physics of Grief

Before I could feel grief’s full weight,
love came to meet it, and though love did not
take away the grief, not even a picogram,
it dispersed the grief into its smallest bits,
as if to increase the surface area interface
so now every single atom of grief
is surrounded, is cushioned by love.

My friend offers me words in Igbo.
Udo diri, he says. There is peace, somehow.
How, when my bright beamish boy is dead?
Yet here in the unlikely physics of grief,
love holds so tenderly each smallest bit,
and somehow, my boy, can you feel it? peace.

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An electrical current
knows nothing of the path
it will take. It goes on all paths,
but flows best toward
where it flows best.

It sounds so simple,
and yet the electrons of this body,
charged with my beliefs,
defy nature and rush toward resistance.

How often I try to fight myself.
How often I battle my own current,
the current of the world—
it’s like wading through honey instead of water,
this thinking I know best.

Sometimes, I see how my own resistance
is nothing but a part of the path.
In that moment, I flow toward where I flow best.
In that moment I am copper, ductile, tough,
In that moment, I am so alive with it, the buzz.

published in ONE ART: A journal of poetry

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And though I can’t remember

what I wrote last night, which seems

like ten years ago, I rattle off,

a body at rest remains at rest and

a body in motion remains in motion

until acted upon by an external force,

and then, mid-sentence, I have some small

fantasy about being a body at rest,

a body at rest that stays at rest, a body

at rest that is somehow entirely unacted upon,

not by breakfast, not by school, not by work,

not by mewling cats or errant bears

traversing the porch, not by nightmares

nor bladder nor hot flash nor chill,

and I think to myself that Newton

was really, really on to something,

some sweet world he posits

that I now long for, a world

where a woman might find

such rest, might be such a body.

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My son and I lean together over the thin resistor,

the nine volt battery, the LEDs in blue and red.


We fuss with the copper tape as it twists and sticks

where we don’t want it to stick. But eventually,


there is light, a small blue light. He can’t stop looking

at the glow on the table. I can’t stop looking


at the glow in him. I remember so little

about how electricity works. Something


about electrons being pushed through the circuit.

Ours is simple, a series circuit, with only one way


for the electrons to go. But I know that no matter

how complex a circuit, the same laws of physics apply.


It’s like love. No matter how intricate the scenario,

the laws themselves are always the same.


There are two laws of love, I tell myself.

One: you can’t predict anything. And two,


it will change you. For good. I swear

as I stare at him now, I can feel the electrons


moving in my own body. Or are those tears,

twin currents following familiar paths.

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One Question


after William Matthews



like the universe, ever expanding,

ever moving beyond its center,

is that what love is?

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Before Work

So Mom, he says, If you’re ever falling on a platform
toward the ocean, let’s say from the edge of the space, and
you’re falling so fast that the impact would kill you, here is what you do.

We are eating buttered bagels with jam. The small silver table
reflects the long slant rays of early morning sun. I take a bite,
and look at him with eyes that say, Go on.

Well just before you hit the waves, he says, you jump.
You have to get off the platform, because once in the air
you become your own force. And it still might hurt, but you’ll live.

I do not recall enough of physics to be certain he is right.
But it sounds as if it could be true. And I stare at him
until he stares back, his mouth rimmed with poppy seeds.

It’s possible that it could work on land, too, he says,
though chances are it would hurt a lot more.
I wonder when he learned to say things such as, “Chances are.”

I do not tell him I have fallen, fallen from the edge of known.
I do not tell him there was no platform for me to jump from.
I do not tell him I was scared.

I say, That is very good advice. I’ll remember that next time
I fall. And we eat our bagels in the morning sun. And I fall in love
with the boy, with forces I don’t understand, and with the feeling of falling

right through the sunlit room, right through the breakfast chair,
right through the platform that might someday save me.
The dust sparkles like surf in the air.

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Once connected, objects affect one another forever no matter where they are.
—Bell’s Theorem

I suppose, my dear, what Mr. Bell
was not trying to say explicitly, although
he surely knew it was implied,
is that you are forever stuck with me,
with my sake-drinking, poem-loving,
unable-to-fix-a-snowblower energy.
And by forever he means forever. Long after
our bodies are gone, whatever streams
of energy still go on, well, our streams
will be invisibly connected even after the sun
burns out and the earth is dimmed or blown to bits.
No decay or divorce or desire or distance will change it.
It isn’t of course that simple. Although it is.
Particle. Wave. Nothing basic is ever easy to explain.
Though somewhere in your individual electrons
you know it is true. I’m not trying to be creepy.
I’m just saying that some things we get to choose
and some things are already done.
Like the fact that we are connected forever.
Like the fact that Friday is Valentine’s Day,
and no matter who you are with or where you are,
we’ll be celebrating it together.

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F Equals

At the campfire, Sam’s father
tells me that Newton’s Second Law

is not always true. I add it to
my growing list of rules to not

depend on. Let’s say in this equation,
the woman is the mass. This is,

of course, a private joke, and
she can laugh about how inconsistent

the mass might be. Fix her to a moment, then,
say that Sunday morning when her kitchen

smelled of apples simmering whitely on the stove,
the steam of the giant canning pot filled

the room with warmth. Let’s say the force
is the voice of the man as he says

the words he knows she hates to hear.
The force is soft spoken and low. Then a equals

the increasing rate at which the woman’s heart races
then runs from the room, though her body still stands

behind the green counter, stirring the simmering fruit.
And a is the increasing rate at which her tears fall.

And a is the rate of the wind as it moves the storm closer
to the walls of the house where the kitchen is warming.

And a is the rate at which the mass learns yet again
that she must be her own bliss.

And what has happened to value m? There is less
of her now than the equation might suggest.

I believe you, I say to Sam’s dad. The fire
snaps between us. The leaves rustle

in the wind. In a perfect world, I could
measure them. In a perfect world, I wonder

what happens to the force.

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