With today's brilliant poem "The Conservation of Matter" by Meryl Natchez, Writing In A Woman's Voice goes on a week's summer solstice vacation until June 25, 2017. Happy mid-summer days to all!
The Conservation of Matter
by Meryl Natchez
for J. E.
I follow the hump of the whale exhaling
as it heads for the Bering Sea. I want to see it, and see it again,
closer. Or branches in a storm, their exuberant dance
with the wind. Even rain on a New York street,
cigarette butts in the gutter, taxis splattering. I can’t get enough of it.
You say: When we die we cease to exist. Everything else
is illusion. But what about that law of physics:
the conservation of matter? How water changes to
steam or ice—mass plus energy
equal to the first wet splash.
And this hard-won companionship, smelted
in a blaze day after day—surely something endures.
Slowly, light turns the bay slate blue.
Night departs. Morning reappears.
The dead look out from their accustomed photos,
stopped in time, but not altogether silent.
The last whiff of the whale’s breath
transforms into ocean, air.