Lay for the Day 29th
anomalous date, appearing once every four years, is the anniversary of
the announcement, in 1908, that solid helium had been produced in an experiment
the day before. It turned out to be a mistake the fine white snow
that appeared in the laboratory flask was not helium but hydrogen. But
the Dutch physicist who announced the result, Heike Kammerlingh Onnes
(18531926, Nobel Prize 1913), went on to produce the worlds
first liquid helium in his Leiden lab later that summer which
became, in the process, the coldest place the Earth had ever known.
liquefies at -269C, a temperature only just above absolute zero, and even
at absolute zero it does not freeze solid. It is a superfluid, flowing
perpetually without friction.
Helium is an ancestor to us all: the fusion of nuclei of hydrogen atoms
into helium atoms is the fuel of the suns fire and the source of
all our energy.
* * * *
grandmother, Elsie Blezard, lived to be a hundred and two. This poem was
written for her memorial service.
One by one my memories lose
These few that are heavier griefs
and fragments of dread
and one, both minute and massive,
thats the rose-scented
globe of an instant
when a child was in a garden
these depart more slowly
and only after many attempts.
Whether it is a heaven
they have risen into before me
around whose gate they wait
purged and sanctified and stripped of pain,
where they may be robed in white
whether there is a heaven
I can also no longer remember.
All the ideas have floated off too
that I may once have had of such things.
They are drawn away beyond
in the great gravity of brightness
sucking the sad weight from my memory;
until naked of all but the moments
I wait for the moment
when these last few sounds become silence,
these last few colours sink back
down in the rose-scented globe,
both massive and tiny,
that turns to night and folds its petals
behind me, finally closing me out,
and the scent, weighing nothing,
returns to the day it came from
and is folded once more in the grasp of a child.
I have finished my arduous
I am becoming light.
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