Monday, February 2, 2015


February 2, 2004

Matter can be neither created nor destroyed,
But in an isolated system
Will be conserved in perfect balance,
Interplaying with its attendant energy,
According to the laws of nature and of nature’s God.

And in a universe of mysteries,
The greatest and rarest mystery of all,
That in a small quantity of collected atoms
From time to time
Matter and energy exist in equipoise,
The one supporting the other;
A hybrid
For a time, or a lifetime, or less
But at a great cost,
For there is no isolated system in this or any other universe.

The only matter that matters will
Be separated from its indwelling energy
And the energy departs
We do not know where
All that is left behind is matter,
And matter is the only thing that will mark the passing of energy --
A spark, a puff of wind, a moving shadow perhaps
The things we choose to mark its passing,
Bare matter themselves,
Wood, metal, stone,
A folded sweater, a dusty book,
Or random energy,
A dream, a memory,
Faulty firing of synapses
A sound, the soft click of a lid as it closes on a life
A flicker at the edge of thought
A strain of music—
All these things will last longer than the matter
That has been severed and cannot return to us,
Until we shall go to it.

- Katherine Chapman

(in memoriam: Rosalie Ruth Maffett Bogue)

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