Five Pounds of Sunlight
The weight of sunlight striking the Earth every second
is two kilograms.
About five pounds.
The weight of a kitten,
six months old, still frisky
still chasing his tail,
and everything else, real and imaginary.
Five pounds of sunlight
races to Earth,
crossing ninety-five million miles in eight minutes,
scattering off clouds,
absorbed by desert soils and rainforest jungles
reflecting from arctic ice
refracting into myriad rainbows.
races across the house
scattering books and papers,
chasing myriad imaginary rainbows
crossing the width of
the living room
in just under one second.
During which time another five pounds of sunlight collides into the Earth
Some of that five pounds of sunlight reflects back into space.
The kitten bounces off the kitchen cabinets, reflecting back into my office
scattering books and papers
But three or four pounds of sunlight stays, warming the Earth.
The kitten, temporarily stationary, naps in the sunlight.
I cup the kitten in one hand
and imagine that I am holding all the sunlight striking the Earth.
first published in Asimov's Science Fiction, January 2011
Page by Geoffrey A. Landis
Image shows the Sun, viewed from the SOHO satellite, image credit SOHO Consortium, EIT, ESA, NASA (from Astronomy Picture of the Day).