At Science Buffs we like to feature STEM in lots of different ways, whether that be articles about a particular scientific finding, a graduate student feature, or opinion pieces about an issue faced in STEM. This week we have something very special: our first poetry post! Bridget Menasche, a graduate student in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and contributor to Science Buffs, is a scientist by day and a poet by night. She is also an avid artist, and has supplied one of her own paintings to illustrate this poem. This is our first installment of the creative Science Buffs minds at work–stay tuned for more!
A man walks into a field no this is not the beginning of a joke
a man walks into a field and ten years later someone notices
a man walks into a field and sets down a record player contraption instrument
of documentation, that is to say, torture. He straps the field around his neck.
The sun suspended by a thick strap at the edge of the horizon; all is dry and dun,
and something is about to snap, perhaps a match, or his patience
the scientist that lays brazen in the field and declaims to rows of corn
is a man without patience and yes it is always a man
The bees are dying. I don’t find them on my windowsill. In a dream
you brought me a bowl of rose petals that turned into a bowl of dead bees,
dried husks swept from the dusty floor and piled into a hive
and the poet who wrote the bees into the bowl
was singing while molding clay the color of bees
against the dawn: barely purple, and very dead, his face glazed.
But in real life the bees don’t bundle
into bowls or into anywhere – gone in a blink, a moment’s lapse.
Scientists call it colony collapse disorder, which is another way of saying
that bees go into a hive when the world blackens with frost
and don’t come out to wake the clover, that farmers lose almost a quarter
of their workers, that the system keeping us land mammals fed for 70 million years
is about to go under, that nature’s stock market is about to crash,
no more apples of sin, no more valentine’s day, colony collapse disorder is another way
of saying who the hell knows
what will become of us
Is it possible to talk about science without talking about growing things
or the sense of our bodies vibrating with the strings
that loop back on themselves to play the tune of matter
is it possible to talk science without talking life,
not the word with a capital L like a crane over the desert
or the scrawls of an equation complex as arabesques across the dome
but the real thing, the cells coating every surface, an elastic seething skin.
Is it possible to talk science without looking out the window
or craning your neck in the parking lot till your muscles yank tight
as the moon’s pull on the ocean, as its pull on your head to the side to right it
from where it has been tipped, a ladle or a bowl
Within my forest of bottles
the swill and salt to keep cells alive and more chemicals besides
I itch to be out and itching under trees, to lean through the leaves,
to be back on an island where howler monkeys wake me at dawn
and the dawn dripping begets stumbling, tripping over roots
no cable no AC no company but the orange-burnt notebook
in my pocket and the geckos curving across the ceiling punctuation
on the first page of the notebook it says a girl walks into the field
and the data says the rest, a record of life on this earth
and mine twined up with it.
Poem and painting by Bridget Menasche