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  • Craig Allen Heath

The Timeless Task of Atoms


Image by Katarzyna Micińska from Pixabay

An atom, forged at the dawn of time,

lives in my body.

It burns and hums as once it did

in the corona of stars,

in the shimmering gasses of the void,

in the oceans of magma below rock,

in the brilliant golden leaves

of dying trees.


It came to me unbidden,

settled in my bones and blood

without let or hindrance.

It waits hidden in dark red marrow,

then shines in sunlight

as glistening tears.

I cannot know it's name or color

but I welcome it

like a long-lost brother returned

from an unknown, distant planet

I'll never see.


It is not mine.

Not one atom, one electron, one spinning quark

that scaffolds this fleshy bag of mostly water

belongs to me.

I have been lent its power

for the span of a heartbeat,

my promise signed in time before time

to use it well, to keep it whole,

as perfect as the day it was birthed

in that great, primordial shout.


"Neither a borrower nor a lender be"

said a wise man, himself composed of nothing

but that which he could never keep.

All that I am and have is on advance,

without formal bond to ensure return,

but honor-pledged to surrender all

to the next star, the next tree, the next child,

the next universe that gleams

in the eye of God.


This atom, "This one right here"

I say, pointing to my heart,

is no smaller than a galaxy,

no larger than a breath,

and I have been entrusted with its care

for one purpose; I am charged with a task.

I smile into your eyes, point to your heart

and say, "An atom, forged in the dawn of time,

lives in your body."


(c) 2021 Craig Allen Heath





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