Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Three Questions

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April is National Poetry Month, and I plan to post one poem per day, every day this month (If you have a favorite poem that you’d like me to share, feel free to email it to me).

My poetry suggestions are starting to run dry, which means I will start posting my own favorites (but you’ve seen many of those already) or you can send me your favorite poems, which I probably haven’t read before! Today’s poem was suggested by Dave, a friend and long-time reader of mine, who writes that this poem was written by “a great modern poet that deserves wider attention, Ralph Black.”

Three Questions

How can it be

that the one sure thing

worth repeating

from a year that slips

between the hands

like kite string,

and is hauled into

the next like a

favorite kite,

is what I think is

a Japanese maple

from the far end

of November,

firing through half

a suburban block

with its not yet burnt-

through extravagance

of orange? Or that

that one tree on

that one block

seen on that one day

in the course of

this one short life

is enough, though clearly,

despite the lies

its leaves are, or

my need to trust

the impossible stories

hanging from its limbs,

it is enough? Or even

that the world, even

this one, can suffer

so little and

so much at once

and mean them both?

— Ralph Black, Turning Over the Earth (Milkweed Editions, 2000).