Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Equation after equation, smiling . . .

       Today's news offers the exciting announcement that Tracy K. Smith is the new Poet Laureate of the United States.  I have not found much of mathematics in her work BUT there are these (offered below) provocative lines of Section 6 from the title poem of  Life on Mars:  Poems  (Graywolf Press, 2011).  This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection is an elegy for Smith's father, a scientist who worked on the Hubble telescope.  

from  Life on Mars       by Tracy K. Smith


Who understands the world, and when
Will he make it make sense?  Or she?

Maybe there is a pair of them, and they sit
Watching the cream disperse into their coffee

Like the A-bomb. This equals that, one says,
Arranging a swarm of coordinates  

On a giant grid.  They exchange smiles.
It's so simple, they'll be done by lunchtime,

Will have the whole afternoon to spend naming
The spaces between spaces, which their eyes

Have been trained to distinguish.  Nothing
Eludes them. And when the nothing that is

Something creeps toward then, wanting
To be felt, they feel it.  Then they jot down

Equation after equation, smiling to one another,
Lips sealed tight.                                                   
(included here with permission of Graywolf Press)

     Thank you, Tracy K. Smith -- and congrats and best wishes for your term as U. S. Poet Laureate.

No comments:

Post a Comment