Thursday, January 26, 2012

Counting the seconds -- and leap seconds

      Keeping time is a simple matter of counting -- counting seconds, summing them into minutes, hours, days. Or is it? Recent news has included mention of the changing length of our solar day and the need for insertion of leap seconds.   (A leap second is a one-second adustment to the time kept by precise atomic clocks -- to keep this latter time close to mean solar time. No leap-seconds were added in 2011 but NPR and The Washington Post recently announced that a leap second will be added June 30, 2012. At 7:59:59 PM, Eastern time, the US Naval Observatory will skip a second to 8:00:00 PM.  Wikipedia offers detailed background on this concept.)     Extra time is a fond wish for many of us -- and Leonard Orr has penned a love poem suggesting how one more second might be delightfully crowded with so much more than could happen in "regular" time. 

   Leap Second     by Leonard Orr

   The news of the leap second excited me;
   I was only concerned with misspending it,
   a lost youth, a disspiated middle-age.
   You could have been standing naked on my back
   squeezing the melancholy from my chakras,
   your toes curling gently while I exfoliated.
   They said physicists measure a second by
   the excited waggling of Cesium 103,
   though its passionate vibrations could
   not be greater than mine.  In the leap second
   my blood would have gushed gaily
   through several feet of arteries feverish for you,
   scarlet for you, I could have drawn in
   a deep breath of you or noticed how
   the soft ridges of our fingerprints fit together.
   We could have leaped as one in the leap second,
   hands interlocked, our four feet for that moment
   two feet above the crushed bedsprings,
   flying heavenward.  I could have opened my eyes
   from deepest sleep in the leap second
   to see your face beside mine, to forget the world,
   to forget everything else except you.

Copyright Leonard Orr, first published in Isotope: A Journal of of Literary Nature and Science Writing 6.1 (Spring/Summer, 2008). Reprinted here from Leonard Orr's collection Why We Have Evening (Cincinnati: Cherry Grove, 2010).

No comments:

Post a Comment