Tuesday Morning Poem

Surface Tension

I failed physics twice, the contradictions foiled me.
Gravity, a force none could explain, like God or love,
more like love maybe, a plunging flume causing distant objects
to orbit, merge, collide, fracture, even die.

Quite the reverse when I pour water into the saucer
beneath the pot of plum-colored African Violets. The plate is wide and bowl-like,
unlike slender tubes used to pluck glistening blood-drops from fingers
to test for anemia. Capillary action, it appears, defies gravity: lamp wicks
and Brawny paper towels, tears splashing over corneas.
Rain tumbles cloud-to-earth, trees pull tons of groundwater

Denser than water, striders and basilisks sashay Jesus-style upon a pond’s skin.
Surface tension is a bouncer, adhesion inspires cliques, a convex meniscus
aches upward. Water is sticky— or is it small-minded and clannish?

Dogma in physics has oscillated wildly,
leaving me dizzy, nearly suicidal. The unknown familiar:
god, demon, nostrum, vapor, quark.
Despite gravity, things fall apart, the center
doesn’t hold.
 Forces oppose one another, like attracts like, wars ensue.

While we quibble, ice caps thaw, magnetic poles shift,
species vanish, another blue crab is boiled alive
in the pot. We cannot seem to dodge science,
nor pin it down, despite our lepidopterist ways—
nets, killing jars, electron microscopes. The most venerated
physicists are dumbstruck by their own utterances.

I long along with multitudes gazing at a vast penumbra.
How do we manage to be so uncertain of what we know
and so sure of what we don’t know, as we glide
along this thin ice of our own private eternity?



Surface Tension was published online at The Chimaera in July 2011 and republished in Hip Mama in 2012.
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