Einsteinium poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Einstein understood
that everything was relative…

Why did he have to worry
about brushing his hair
or changing out of his pajamas
when he was busy grappling
with the foundations of phyics?

And once he fathomed
the relationship
between matter and energy,
once he understood
the interconnectivity
between matter and energy —

he suddenly understood,
after this Jewish physicist
left his home in Germany,
that Hitler and the Third Reich
could be working on an atomic bomb,
converting so little matter
into so much devastating energy.

At this time, he understood
the need for Roosevelt
to create this weapon
so the Germans wouldn’t destroy us.

The gravity of this discovery
in the hands of evil men
weighed him down,
and even months
before he died,
Einstein wrote
that although the devastation
in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
seemed unfathomably horrific
and he regretted writing
that letter to Roosevelt,
his justification
was the threat of Germany.
When he wrote that letter,
he still had to appeal to Roosevelt,
that yes, to save us from Germany,
this weapon needed to be created.

Knowing about his torment
in making this decision
to ask for the creation
of the atomic bomb,
makes it so ironically beautiful
that after scientists
discovered an element
after the first explosion
of the hydrogen bomb,
they named the element Einsteinium
after the physicist.


Einsteinium is a silvery-white,
radioactive, synthetic element
with a high fission rate,
like the atomic bombs
Einstein first knew of
when fearing his homeland enemy.
But because of the short half-life
of all isotopes of Einsteinium,
all primordial Einsteinium
has decayed by now,
and beyond it’s nuclear creation,
there is almost no use
for any isotope of Einsteinium
outside of basic scientific research…

Which makes me think of the
life of Albert Einstein, I suppose,
for although Einstein worked
at odd jobs for years
until he was a patent examiner,
his mind was only good at one thing:
doing not-so-basic scientific research,
solving scientific fundamental puzzles,
if only he had the time
to study the puzzle long enough.

photos of Janet Kuypers and Albert Einstein with their tongues sticking out