I’m being quizzed by a nine-year-old about p.s.i.,
how the pounds per square inch of a Bull Sharks’ bite
compare to the jaw’s pressure of a Great White
Shark. I guess one hundred, and get an amused sigh
which means I’m way off. “Higher”, he says, as I go
up in increments, a little too halting and slow
for his liking. “Higher,” he urges, then impatiently
gives me the answer. Six hundred plus for the Great
White, a thousand or more for the Bull. After that, he
begins to ask about each animal’s length and weight.
And I think of Thoreau’s sentence—Let us not underrate
the value of a fact—that he wrote in an early book review,
each, a surveyor’s stake, put down to help us arbitrate
the vastness, and, with some luck, find our way through.
by Charles Weld
Editor’s Note: This sonnet somehow manages to capture the curiosity of a child while also paying homage to an adult’s need for order. By the end, the reader remembers to enjoy the wonder that some facts offer.