Half life

Do you rue the brevity of your life,
Or like the psalmist, lament its fated ending?

Consider the kaon
who gets to throw around its weight
— a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a kilogram —
for 12 nanoseconds before death

What does it accomplish, within these constraints?

Certainly it must recover from a wrenching birth, spawn of a careening proton,
and with no period of mourning however brief, determine its direction

From which the scrappy spark does not stray

It might indeed ponder its place in the order of things:
How did a high-speed energy beam choose to thrust it onward, among all particles?

Why now?

And to what end?

Eventually it must accept the bounds of what is possible
Recognize its inevitable weakening

Sense the approaching exit, leaving only pions to the finiteness of the universe

But the kaon’s life is not in vain!
It took charge
Faithfully carried the pulse with which it was endowed through four dimensions

And kept the cosmos on far-flung paths

Turn the beam of introspection onto your own half-life
What have you to say now?

This poem was published in the Summer 2022 issue of Vita Poetica, along with my audio recording.

Andy Oram
September 23, 2020