‘Classical thermodynamics is the only physical theory of
universal content which I am convinced… will never be
– Albert Einstein, 1948
The law is simple and profound:
the hot cools down.
Take for example this cup of tea I hold.
Forgetting it for a time while
I spoke on the phone I return
to find it already cold, the heat
drained from it into this small room.
The same is true of everything.
The churning furnace of the sun
up there in the August sky
will do the same in time
in a dramatic final gesture
of sudden collapse and slow
What is borrowed for a time
must be given back.
It is very democratic.
Yet, how brutal its simplicity
when I think of the one I spoke to
moments before, struggling for breath
in his small bare-walled room,
the desperate daily demands to keep
the blood warm in his veins,
to borrow one more day or a few hours.
How quickly we too grow cold
when the last breath is expelled
from our parting lips, the heat
of our lives fading by this covenant
and its strict and inescapable requirement.