Sunday, March 1, 1981

MEASURING THE SPEED OF LIGHT

MEASURING THE SPEED OF LIGHT

Last night I passed a long row of storefront windows
facing me at right angles to my car
my headlights reflected in the glass
another phantom car hurtling towards me
Hopelessly I braced for impact at 60 miles per hour

The headlights, both real and reflected,
reached the apex, and passed thru one another
My startled heart thumped unevenly
and I asked, is this the speed of flight?

Long distance telephone call
the dial lights up and electrical impulses
converted into light, travel across the nation.
One can call Boston almost as quickly
as it takes to dial a nearby friend.
The friend takes longer to answer.

London is 9000 miles away.
Like great arteries across the earth's belly
transatlantic cables are filled with thin spicules—
multiple subways made of glass,
and light hurtling thru them at breakneck speed.

The telephone rings in a house I've never seen
where a man has a son, now grown,
without his having been there to witness the event.
With hand on the reciever, he hears the dial tone—
It takes him longer to measure the speed of slight.

1979? or 3/81?
added 2/2017
minor changes