contemplation on steam

making coffee, half-awake, I watched the liquid in the pot heating, saw the steam rising, watched the tiniest of bubbles on the surface.

They bounced off each other, jostling at ever-greater speeds as they heated up

and I thought about how I saw the individual parts in my mind, imagining all those little beady molecules, picturing charts of fluid dynamics, dreamily considering scientific explanations of speed and temperature rising together and the changes between states of matter

and I wondered what it was like before that was understood, when it was fully a mystery, when a liquid was a liquid and not the mostly empty space of atoms

and I remembered reading about the discovery of oxygen and of photosynthesis

the invention of air

and smiled knowing something is now unknown that will be known in the future and will become a given