When I asked Mr. B about solar wind, he said it didn’t exist.
In front of the whole class. There was no such thing.
But I was pretty sure he was wrong, and he was:
solar wind is a stream of charged particles, mostly protons,
released from the upper atmosphere of the sun
and permeating the whole solar system. It’s like the Holy Spirit.
You can sail on it, the way these kids did in a story
I’d read about a regatta in space, from Mercury to the Moon.
Their ship was like a sailboat, snug and tight,
but its wings were enormous, half a mile wide on each side,
and tissue-thin. Entirely silver. And they won, finally,
against all odds. They answered every challenge, and they won.
But I don’t blame Mr. B. You don’t have to be
completely right to be right. There are things we all know.
I won the Madison Elementary School Science Fair
for a solar house that didn’t work. It was just a plywood box,
cut on the diagonal, with ordinary glass on the slant
and two thermometers, one on the inside, one on the outside.
I couldn’t figure out how to store the heat or how
to focus it. I couldn’t boil water and I couldn’t make steam.
All that happened was that the box got warmer
when the sun came out. Cooled when the sun went down.
What wouldn’t? But isn’t that the point? We have to be
where we’re at. The forces that sustain us can’t be seen.