Three Epiphanies of Gold


Epiphany for the chemist—
seeing Gold next to Mercury
in the Periodic Table of Elements—
atomic numbers 79 and 80.
No wonder quicksilver was in those
alchemical recipes, even though
the ancients knew not that removing
a proton, electron, and three neutrons
would convert Mercury to Gold,
now feasible with nuclear fission
or through fusion by combining
Tin with Copper to produce Gold.


Epiphany for the astronomer—
seeing solar system's swiftest
named after the Roman god Mercury,
celestial messenger with winged feet
that's our closest planet to the Sun—
No wonder Apollo traded his caduceus
for Mercury's lyre so he could lead
the nine muses on Mount Parnassus.
And now nine planets circle the Sun
to music of the spheres and Mercury
is conducting with his caduceus for
within his orbit is pure golden light.


Epiphany for the philosopher—
seeing we're not the temporal
mercurial body aging and dying
but the eternal sun-like soul in
its resplendent beauty and glory—
finding the Uncarved Block of Taoists,
the Philosopher's Stone of alchemists,
to change lead to gold— that the elixir
is not in a cavern deep inside the earth
but within ourself is the Golden Bough
beyond waking, dreams, and deep sleep,
is our true essence, the Self that is golden.

            — Peter Y. Chou
                Mountain View, 3-7-2010