Julie Cadwallader Staub

winner of the Ruth Stone Prize for Poetry (2015)


 

I slept from 10 p.m. last night until 8:27 this morning.
Ten hours and twenty-seven minutes.
Yesterday I drove 328 miles to visit my sister in Princeton, N.J.
the home of Albert Einstein
who captured energy, mass and the speed of light
in an elegant equation that every student learns.

Look at us:
we quantify everything we can
in this complex and astonishing world,
from nanoseconds to eons
from millimeters to miles
from basis points to billions.

But no one can measure the velocity of hope,

the way hope hatches
fully fledged–in fact, already flying–
between one word and the next
between one breath and the next.

Neither can we calculate the stain of fear,

the way it infects a childhood
and spreads to a lifetime.

And we can only try to imagine the circumference of compassion

the way it shows us the shape of love
embracing, expanding,
factoring in forgiveness
it invents its own quantum leap,
its own speed of light.

from Roads Taken: Contemporary Vermont Poetry (Green Writers Press)


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