Craig Allen Heath
The Timeless Task of Atoms
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