Edited by Dava Sobel
For any liquid, there are two ways to arrive:
condensation or melting, a gas finding
shape or a solid losing it. For any liquid,
leaving depends on pressures
and one of two ways out: to evaporate
is to lift from its own surface,
the bonds broken, the substance cooling
with each molecular departure;
to boil is to reach the elemental
point of no return, through and through.
For a solid, there's another trick to changing states
by skipping the liquid in-between:
the ablation of glaciers by wind that eats snow,
the whiff of mothballs from the closet,
arsenic like a hint of garlic in the air—
or in reverse, frost or soot or rime,
the coalescence of vapor, no longer suspended.
The mind is said to do this, too: to turn
one energy into another, like desire into art
to save oneself in another state of being.