Cesium, “Periodic Table of Poetry” poem by Chicago poet Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “Periodic Table of Poetry” series (#055, Cs)

Is this the best of times?
Is this the worst of times?
Or is this just
             one of those times?

Only humans understand time —
where did all the time go?
Do we even know?
Time slips away
as we look for ways
to keep time every day
right down to the nanosecond.

Because without my Cesium,
I couldn’t be so obsessed
with being on time
for absolutely everything…

Without Cesium clocks,
everyone would be forced
to be their clueless selves
when it comes to their time
in this global village…

We can thank Cesium-133
for producing identical radiation
at exactly the same frequency,
which makes Cesium perfect
for the Cesium atomic clock
that monitors time globally
in such perfect detail.

Perfect for my obsession with time.

But I have to remember
that with Cesium or without,
time is only a human construct…
I’ll need to check my watch,
and remind myself of this
at times like these.