How Far? How Long?

How far is an inch?
How long is a minute?
You can measure them out
with a yardstick
or clock.
You can measure an hour
and a city block
and the time it takes
to stop and talk.
Yardsticks and clocks
are the usual way,
but it’s how I feel
that measures
a day
an hour
a block.
How far is a block?
it’s just from here to the corner.
An inch is quite long
to something quite small.
Sometimes a minute
is nothing at all.
An hour’s forever
when I watch the clock,
but it seems
like a minute
when I stop to talk
at each of the shops
along the block—
the block that’s from
here to the corner.
How long is a minute?
It’s nothing at all
when I am out playing
and hear Mother call.
I say,
“In a minute—”
Then Mother says,
But the time gets mixed up, and I don’t see how.
I say,
“Just a minute—”
and Mother says,
That minute was over five minutes ago!”
But if I am waiting to go to a show,
a grown-up’s minute
How far is an inch?
I know on a ruler
it’s just that far.
But it seems to change
with the size you are.
It would be several steps
for an ant or a fly,
or just one hop
for a bird going by.
An inch-step for me
would be nothing at all,
because to a bird
or an ant
I am tall!
I guess it’d have thousands
of inches to walk
if an ant
went clear to the end of the block.
How far is an inch?
One single inch?
One little inch?
I know on a ruler it’s not very much,
but it’s quite a long way for bugs and such.
With empty time and nothing to do,
an hour
and a day
are never through.
But when I’m busy,
they go by
as quickly
as any plane can fly.
How long
is an hour?
a day?
a minute?
It all depends
on just what’s in it!

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch