[36] Proposal for quantifying the full spectrum of human emotion, Juliana Chang

The universe is comprised of seven fundamental units
which measure all quantities known to mankind.
In my 23rd year of life, I’ve come to the conclusion
that these seven are not enough.
Consider this a formal letter of complaint
on the shortcomings of our systems,
a request for the following:

I want meters
for the distance within a phone call,
cross continental line that stretches and strains,
builds new space to hold the entirety
of mom’s voice in a miniature speaker.
How far away can a sound be
if you’ve known it by heart your whole life?

I want kilograms, for the morning after he leaves
and I wake up with a hole in my throat—
can you measure the weight of negative space,
untouched pillow, kitchen silence?
How heavy does an absence sit in the back of the eyes?

I want candelas for a glowing smile,
the way my hands tingle
when I watch C’s eyes light up in the dusk,
best friend, dearest emotional nightlight.
Can you tell me how dark things were
before I met her? Can you tell me how much
my belly laugh shines now?
Do you have different types of seconds
for the 12 quarters of college I flew through
and that two minute phone call last Sunday
where my hands aged twenty years?
What temperature is a first kiss
or a first day of school,
sweaty palms gripping the edge of the desk?
What’s the unit for utterly grand, or spilling hearts,
or when you make up perfect song lyrics on the spot?

I want equations, variables
and all the unknowns in the world to solve for.
I want to know exactly how much
I felt, and I want to know it was real.
What I’m trying to say is:
I believe in giving names to change.
Measurement is just another word
for memory.

I don’t know how far you are,
but I know I wish you were here.
Until then, I’ll stay on the phone,
hold this space for all your quiet,
keep searching for the right words,
the dotted lines,
for where your body ends
and mine begins.

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