Monday, September 17, 2018

Time and Precision . . . .

   California poet Carol Dorf is a semi-retired secondary school mathematics teacher who is an important force in poetry.  Not only a fine poet, Carol also is Poetry Editor of TalkingWriting, an online journal that sometimes features mathy poems.  It has been my pleasure to meet Carol and to read with her on several occasions, most recently at the 2017 Bridges Conference in Waterloo, Ontario.  The following poem is one that Carol read at Bridges 2018 and it is included in the Bridges Stockholm 2018 Poetry Anthology; it is a thoughtful reflection on the way that time -- and precision in its measurement -- varies in our lives.

Announce the Hour You Have Clocks For    by Carol Dorf
Time progresses through the bells 
announcing each moment of occupation: 
toilet, wash, dress, eat, work a, break, work b . . . 
eat, undress, wash, toilet. 

Schematic, yes. Our clocks' precision  
increases until the second, 
the thousandth's of a second 
separates competitors for the title, 
"Fastest Woman in the World," 
"Fastest Man." 

Could Mussolini have made these trains 
run on fractional time? For a space- 
ship it matters, a millisecond off 
and three years later Mars will be far 
from its predicted location. 

Yet who doesn't long for the time 
of a mother soothing a fretful child to sleep. 
"It's the middle of the night, hush, rest."

This poem first appeared in Maintenant.
     Related note:  "Fastest Woman in the World" -- The Washington Post recently featured
 featured an obituary for Diane Leather -- a runner who became (in 1957)
 the first woman (in 1957) to run a mile in under 5 minutes.

No comments:

Post a Comment