Action At a Distance

About the particulars of a thing they are often wrong
At first, the physicists: beginning, as they do,
With the poorly understood. But they have the advantage
Of equations out of which they build and test
Theories to play out in quantum and gravitational fields.
And the numbers, more exact than any brush
Flourishes of masters old or new, do render
Past, present, and future positions of bodies heavy with inertia
And of their shadows perfectly against the faces of suns
And on the hunched and nebulae-draped
Shoulders of distant galaxies shivering in darkness:
White sprays of air bubbles freezing into
The first thin ice of a winter pond.

You and I, however, whether us in particular
(And you know who I mean—I hear it
In that ribald riff of your laughter), or us in general,
Must work forever with approximations
Thinner even than metaphors of ice. Our ears
Our eyes our hands our hips must always proceed
Through guesswork. Only our lips ever shape anything
Nearly right. Our tongues are always tied.

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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