First Law of Thermodynamics – a poem by T. S. Davis

First Law of Thermodynamics:
Neither Matter nor Energy Can Be Created or Destroyed

The Buddhists believe that we keep coming back trying to get this living thing right, which they call Samsara, a state of death and rebirth that supposedly we’re all stuck in until we do get it right and achieve what they call Nirvana, but I don’t know what to call where I am right now, whether Samsara, Nirvana, or somewhere sublime in between, as two squirrels chase each other in dense leaves of a late July oak tree, leaving a turbulent trail snaking through the canopy of green, all foreground against a canvas of cobalt and white sky, this strange wondrous world, framed by my office window, through which I watch, leading my life, or being led, or somewhere sublime in between, sitting quietly now, revisiting the memory of my birth, thanks to a jolting dose of LSD many decades ago, remembering the walls of my mother forcing me sensate with their violent pressure, sliding down a tube slick with the smell of her blood into the cradling arms of brilliant light and strange babbling robed creatures with no faces, into a confusion of tongues I fell, with no words of my own to describe the rich confection of sensation, this sudden enworldment, capable of no useful sound except the indispensable blast of a spontaneous scream from tiny gasping lungs, now, a lifetime later, I ponder the firefly I saw through this window last night blinking against the darkness of the giant oak, as if to say “I never was, now I’m here, now I’m gone again, forever,” over, and over, a brief flashing light, escaping nothingness, like me, like all of us, trying hard to revise our past, to peer clearly into the baffling blankness of our future, bewildered and flummoxed, but hoping to take with us the exquisite realness of this now, living our lives as if they mattered, waiting, to find out.


T. S. Davis is the author of Sun + Moon Rendezvous, a book of poems, and is the former producer of the Seattle Poetry Slam. He’s performed his work around the US, including Manhattan, Chicago, and Seattle. Most recent publications include poems and essays in Rattle. Mr. Davis is a retired Registered Nurse who lives in rural Arizona and writes creative nonfiction and Shakespearian sonnets.

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