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).