The Sciences Sing a Lullabye

Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.

Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

– Albert Goldbarth


This is a lovely, whimsical poem that starts off with the little things – literally, at the molecular level – and builds through the sea lapping continents and the sunrise all the way up to the weight of history.
The notion of the Sciences as a sort of Greek chorus telling the narrator to sleep is amusing, but there are larger truths uncovered by the advice to (one presumes) the insomniac poet – you’re tired, you aren’t alone, the sun will rise.
You can read more about Albert Goldbarth here.

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