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What Spins Down

by Michael T. Young

I listen to a physicist on a podcast

explain quantum entanglement: he says

to think of it as two particles striking each other 

and flying off in opposite directions, but now, 

by knowing the direction of one 

we can know the direction of the other 

because they’re entangled. 


     And I think 

of Ahmaud Arbery, a young black man, 

like a particle, jogging down a suburban road, 

flecks of sunlight stippling his body through the trees,

until he meets up with another particle: 

Gregory McMichael, running in the opposite 

direction, with a gun. 


      The physicist says 

that electrons spin up or down and when 

I observe one spin up, another one of me 

somewhere also observes it spin down 

and that both these realities exist, 

both these selves. 


 So, I think of that other Arbery, 

the one who went on jogging, enjoying

the warm day, spinning up to his porch

like an electron. I want to meet him, 

to know what kind of world lets him live. 

But the physicist tells me I can’t talk 

to those others, our worlds are forever 

separate, can never know each other, 

and my Ahmaud Arbery

always spins down.

Michael T. Young’s third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was longlisted for the Julie Suk Award. His previous collections are The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost and Transcriptions of Daylight. He has received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and his chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. His poetry has been featured on Verse Daily and The Writer’s Almanac. It has also appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Banyan Review, Gargoyle Magazine, The Inflectionist Review, Talking River Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.

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