First off, I want to apologize to the two people who actually remembered I had written here (hi Mom and Dad!) for not writing anything new in, well, almost a year. Things have been uniquely chaotic for me over the past year. I’m reminded of the apocryphal story about a sultan who asked once King Solomon if there was anything that would be universally true in any situation, regardless of whether it was good or bad. Solomon replied, “This too shall pass.”
Indeed they will. It’s not just an OK Go song, although everything does sound better when sung within a Rube Goldberg machine.
Instead of posting a quippy 300-word article about my graduate school experience (sorry Mom and Dad), I thought I would write a 200-word poem about that experience. I’m not saying the poem is good; I’m saying that what follows are more than 200 words grouped into stanzas. Writing poetry is much harder than writing prose, which is why I generally avoid it, but blizzards help make people wistful and unconventionally inspired. (That’s why Percy Bysshe Shelley was such a huge fan of Dairy Queen.)
Oh, and if you feel similarly inspired, please submit that inspiration, as long as it’s fewer than two double-spaced pages, to the OHSU Poetry Contest. I believe that art and science are both cut from the same magnificent cloth, and it’s a pretty cool when the intersection between them is celebrated.
As the world drums its wet fingers
Impatiently on my window,
You are holding your breath
While your father is in surgery, or
Gritting your teeth through one more exercise
To strengthen the replaced knee.
You are bringing sandwiches to your girl
Whose blonde hair vanished weeks ago.
I am young.
What do I know of sacrifice?
These pipettes and flasks I hold,
They are not your courage, your strength.
They do not soothe a tension
Held too long in captivity.
Please accept this humble offering,
These graphs and charts that I make
With earnestness and love.
Please know that here,
On this hill built with old bricks,
Opportunity is opened
Like a burst pomegranate,
And my fingers are red-stained and slick.
In the evening,
From inside the Tram
That gently rocks us restless children,
I see the guiding needle of a compass.
Its trunk is the Willamette River,
Its point the wintry Mount Hood.
Or maybe it’s in the bridges
Stretched like steel sutures across the city,
In every person circulating through the streets,
Carrying oxygen like presents wrapped for Christmas.
Or perhaps the swaying wind
Carries the whispered words
Or the weary pair of explorers
Scanning the horizon with blistered hands,
Looking for direction
And somewhere to rest.