Once I asked Matthew to get me some tin foil
from the drawer and he peeked his head around
the doorframe and sang me a little song,
We’re out of tin, we have aluminum.
I wish I could sing it for you
but you are probably reading this alone
in your living room or not reading it at all
and anyway I can’t get that little boy voice
exactly right. Did you know that aluminum
was discovered in Denmark in 1825?
I wish I knew that story.
Who was walking through beautiful Scandinavia
and saw a little shine stuck in a fist of rock
and thought we could use that to bake potatoes?
What I know about baking potatoes
is that you have to make sure the shiny side
is out. Yesterday I went to the planetarium
where I learned I get dizzy when I look
too long at the stars, at least the fake stars
which are moving faster than the real stars do,
those fixed little doorknobs.
I also learned that all elements are made
from the death of stars. When a star dies,
it scatters its body through space and those elements
then float around for a while, say a million years,
and then they are collected into a new star
and pieces break off into planets,
like the one we’re on right now.
It’s important not to forget
when you’re thinking about how
you can’t sleep because your children
are no longer upstairs
that you are on a planet with hidden elements
everywhere from stars that died a long time
before you were even born.
The difference between tin and aluminum
is that tin is very rare.
No wonder Matthew couldn’t find it.
Aluminum is the 3rd most common
element and tin the 49th.
It’s like that sometimes, isn't it?
The house is so quiet now.