A Poem by Carol Dorf

On Definitions

 

With all the ways time loops in the quantum

foam definitions slide away. Her mother

could have said “a life defined by sorrow”

but it might have been sparrows or tomorrow

which is a problem when tomorrow loops

around today. Her physics teacher would

have said “don’t confuse your quantum world

with your mechanical space — no one

hoists anvils under an imaging machine.”

 

Though isn’t that the point: there is “no one”

on that infinitesimal scale so

we define life in the particle zoo:

Quarks — up and down bottom and strange

Leptons — neutrino, electron muon and tau

 

Imagine the first instants of the universe

where light and gravity interact

in long waves, when metaphors turn

upon themselves before they intersect

in hyperbolic geometries.

 

 

(From Theory Headed Dragon — first published in Antiphon/republished in Scientific American.)

 

 

 

Carol Dorf has two chapbooks available, Some Years Ask, (Moria Press) and Theory Headed Dragon, (Finishing Line Press.) Her poetry appears in E-ratio, Great Weather For Media, Glint, Slipstream, Sin Fronteras, Surreal Poetics, About Place, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Scientific American, and Maintenant. She is poetry editor of Talking Writing and teaches mathematics in Berkeley.

Visit talkingwriting.com

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