The wonder that we count

One neutron.
It dies.
Add one proton.  Make one out of two.
It lives.
Take two of the ones that live and make one again.
Alpha, the beginning.
Take three of the ones that are four and make Carbon.
Carbon makes us.
We live because of simple numbers.
Is number real?
Are our words numbered?
How can we speak them?
Is it because of the One who is three in being one?
Does that tell us of Omega, the end?

Paul S. Julienne
February 2016

Notes on the poem: A single isolated neutron is unstable, decaying after around 15 minutes. A neutron and a proton combined make a deuteron, which is stable without decay. Two deuterons make an alpha particle, comprised of two protons and two neutrons. Three alpha particles make a carbon nucleus, which is necessary for life, along with the heavier elements.  See this link for my article, “Fire,” on carbon formation in special stars in the early universe.