A Single Photon Entangles Thousands of Autumns*

Six months and eight minutes ago
You were walking in an autumn afternoon,
Looking at the white strips of birch
Bark peeling away from the trunks,

You were building a blind in the field
By the river thinking about Christmas geese,
Or you had just left the office early hoping
To see the sun slant across a certain profile.

Six months and eight minutes ago
A single massless particle left the sun,
Fell down out of the blue among red
And yellow leaves drying in late October.

We know how fast its falling was
Until we looked away. It spread, then,
Into a wave and swept you up in it
Tumbling in the swell behind the frothing

Crest of light and space and time—
Did you trace white arcs of mammoth tusks
And smilodon teeth, hear the dik-dik
Dik-dik of flint being chipped along edges,

Hammered into points? Or did you taste
In the heavy winds of the dust bowl
The ashes of Peshtigo and Chicago, and
Feel the scratch and dark warmth of wool

Blankets carried as gifts out of Fort Pitt?
History did not become inevitable
Six months and eight minutes ago. But
It remains here; now, long, inescapable.

*I took the title from a headline that read A Single Photon Entangles Thousands of Atoms.

About John MacKenzie

I'll mumble for ya. Poetry, plus most things quantifiable: science, neuroscience, memory, epistemology, baseball. And so on.
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