It started me young, all this
stuff with the atom : how tables
and hammers and everything else
weren't really 'solid' at all. Just
seemingly so, in a whizzing
concoction of too small to see
atoms with spaces between.
Then that got smaller, things
that made up the atom - all
that sacrificial stuff of electrons
and nucleus and protons and the
rest. Like a jungle army of the
purely mad, all this Science got
pounded in and went marching on.
I never knew; and I never cared;
just 'that table better have a chair.'
Now it's all different again, and I
am old. All those missed endeavors
are over for me. Those atoms, long
ago smashed into smaller pieces, and
now the quarks and leptons on retainer,
whose speeding tracks are spotted in
accelerators only but not one by one.
We only detect the muffled screams
now, of matter and radiation rushing.
And nod we do at all other conclusions :
the smashing of particles in mile-long
chutes, the dancing of atoms in horrid
canals where time and space itself are
blown apart. Oh! We are so smart!
Yet I know the black smoke that lingers
'round this fire known as Life to be the
black smoke of toil and strife : we go on,
with words and concepts, falling error
over error each for a little time, a sparse
amount of something we cannot identify.