Rich and Pam Go to Fermilab and Later See a Dead Man
By Richard Chwedyk
17 March 2003
The frogs on the bank of the little creek
stick out their heads for an instant
then plop back down under the surface.
And the frogs in the tall reeds that
surround the pond by the Learning Center:
when we approach, they fling themselves
gracefully into the water.
They adjust their hidings carefully;
from out of sight to out of sight
they go -- we have only an instant's
interim to view them.
And so it is, my darling, with the
particles racing through the
accelerator ring to the east, and
so it is, my love, with all the
things which make real the world
which makes things real.
Can you see the universe now
as flickering, countless particles? Each
particle a Basho frog slipping into
the pond, to the surface of
perception -- plop, splash, again . . .
And this is why the pond and the creek
and the ring are so close together,
and why they should be.
We will ride away from here,
past the bison field, past the
toy town of the postgraduates,
and it is all blinking, flickering,
slipping into the pond.
We will ride away under the beastly
heat of the sun, on beastly, bumpy
roads; and we will drive past
country clubs and shopping centers
and multiplexes and anonymous
mounds of commerce and industry;
and we will be jammed into the city
traffic jam, halted and halted again
by traffic lights that flicker
red, yellow, green and into the pond.
And on to the schoolyard parking lot
and on to the sweaty barbecue
and the beaded condensation on the glasses.
And the sweaty lobby, the painted clouds
on the auditorium ceiling, and Christmas
light stars that slowly blink
and the gray, gray film,
and the greenhorn on the train
sleeping, waking, sleeping,
who sees in an even slower flicker
until he, in all his constituent frames,
and the painted clouds, and the lobby,
and the condensation, and the
schoolyard parking lot
all leap into the pond.
And once it has all slipped
gracefully in, I see our love
in the concentric ripples.
I see our love in the stillness
that follows. I see it again
as the timorous frogs peep out
of the accelerator ring, where
Heisenberg's rules are reflexive,
as the experiment looks at us,
as it looks at all the other things which
make real the world
which makes us real.
Copyright © 2003 Richard Chwedyk
Richard Chwedyk's last two stories for F&SF have made the Nebula preliminary ballot. His "The Measure of All Things" also made the short list for the Sturgeon Award. His poem about A. E. Van Vogt is slated to appear in Hartwell and Cramer's next Year's Best SF anthology. He lives in Chicago and tries to keep busy and employed.