Size / / /

It means the headwaters of mass,

the treacly origins of inertia,
have been discovered. It explains

why rocks stubbornly refute
the argument of my toes; why galaxies
clump like moths around a dark flame;

how a whale floats in the sea dreamy
as a balloon, yet a small oyster
of a child clings heavy as a millstone.
Maybe it even explains why tragedy,

a metal and plastic bolide, hurtles
unstoppable through red lights;
how grief presses down on lungs
to squeeze out the last sweet breath;
why a black hole of absence hangs so heavy.

It has cost billions to build
god-sized synchrotrons aswim
with sticky-fingered particles,
and thousands of papers covered in black
specks of data like locusts
swarming on error-bar wings

to confirm what every family knows.

C. W. Johnson's poems have appeared in Asimov's, Stone Telling, Goblin Fruit, Star*Line, and non-genre magazines. His 2012 poem "Vigor Mortis" was nominated for a Rhysling Award. Johnson's fiction has been published in Analog, Asimov's, Interzone, The Other Half of the Sky, and elsewhere. He is a professor of physics specializing in theoretical nuclear physics, and his research articles appear in Physical Review C and elsewhere.
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