(Humphry Davy in Austro-Slovenia, 1828)
This time’s as if
I hadn’t made new worlds –
disproved phlogiston, separated air,
discovered laughing gas and chlorine,
purple iodide, the weight of oxygen
with steel-necked flasks and bubbling
electrolysis. My safety lamp
that stopped mines from exploding
floats far above
this valley opening to
trout streams which invite a fly.
Since I was prentice
in Penzance, age ten, the power
of shaded pools for casting lines
has been my fortitude.
A year beyond two fits
to bring back writing with my hand
just doubles this green peace,
my hillside house, the pliant
girl who helps me reach the banks
and warms my bed.
An angler’s mind
preserves small things: this glistered
drop on twine; the level azure
of her Alpine eye. And sees
how separation is mere part.
How bonds that Volta seems to break
may in another state re-tie.
So to my last experiment:
First published in Spectral Lines: Poems About Scientists, An Anthology (Alternating Current Press, 2019)