How Far? How Long?

“How Far? How Long?” Friend, Nov. 1972, 17–19

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!

Illustrated by Phyllis Luch