Posted in Rituals

Small Talk

The name caught –
a routinely distinguished academic
impressively intelligent
but not indelibly brilliant,
retiring from tenure aged 65
29 years before?
36, when I was 21.

The experiment ridiculously easy
a drop of acid
capture the liberated  gas … run spectra.

This spectrometer is in a research lab – off limits to undergraduates
instruction: see staff member.
I don’t need to speak,
a nod is directed at my clutched hand
he stands up and moves
I am to follow, I assume.

Through the lab
down a corridor to the lift well,
push and wait
up six levels
through smoke stop doors
another long corridor
into another laboratory.

A machine – impressive and never before seen
a hand points at an aperture
connections won’t
“ turn it 90 degrees ”
“ Oh, sideways,”- a nod.

The machine performs its magic
a series of lines is printed
he tears the perforation from the printer – scans quickly – turns.
corridor, lift, corridor, lab
20 minutes together – just the two of us
“ turn it 90° the only words spoken.”




Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.