By Joan Mazza

Blue pills spilling from a glass

Track down the half-life of radioisotopes
and you’ll find Uranium at 4.5 billion years,
Carbon 14 at 5,730 years. Caffeine a mere

five to six hours. Meds have half-lives, too—
the time they take to degrade to half strength
when you’ll need to take another dose.

What about marriages and friendships, careers
and gym memberships? How long before
the honeymoon and dinner passes without

a word exchanged? How long before passion
takes a long vacation or moves on to another
person in a far off country? Why do friends

fade away, stop returning calls and emails?
No way to calculate losses when confidants
change their elements from warming carbon

to icy nitrogen. The substance of their company
turns ghostly, a foggy memory. Remember
that first day teaching before a rapt audience?

Now you hate crowds, their gaze upon you,
questions you’ve answered a thousand times.
Perhaps only hobbies hold their lives whole.

Supplies wait until you cycle back to fabric,
paper, paint, and ribbons. How patiently they sit
on the shelf, knowing you’ll call some day

and greet them like old friends and companions,
remember the soothing gestures of cutting,
folding, steady rhythm of needle in, needle out.

Category: Featured, Poetry