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Poetry Friday: Hindsight

It’s Poetry Friday again. This month we’re re-visiting old poems, so I’ve been revising things I wrote in college.

This one is about a feeling I had during a quantum mechanics lecture almost ten years ago. I was a physics major then, but I didn’t know yet that I would go to graduate school, become a “real physicist”, and eventually be a staff scientist at the national lab where I had just spent the summer as an intern. I love the more applied work I do now, but the feeling of learning the mysteries of quantum mechanics for the first time will always be special.

July 4, 2010

In the quantum mechanics lecture

On the day I knew I had to become a scientist,
wind came in from the afternoon with voices

from the sidewalk, faint smoke. Glyphs stood
in white on the blackboard: the wavefunction, 

the energy, the eigenvalue, the same story
told as holy mystery every October. It started 

like a sudden change of scale, a widening 
beyond the windows. It wasn’t a blinding glimpse 

of grand beauty. Part of it was almost certainly 
the caffeine. It was more like the October air, 

the pencil in the hand, the pleasure of writing the letter psi,
the adventure in following the steps—to the end. 

Please visit my poetry sisters and read their poems!


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