A few weeks ago, physicist Brian Greene visited the high school where I teach and gave an assembly about string theory and other exciting scientific matters, and then he worked with individual science classes on specialized topics. His visit was, in a word, fascinating, but if I tried to explain the highlights of his presentation, I would fail miserably. Greene is such an accessible speaker, which is in part what he’s known for, that I had no difficulty understanding any of what he said, but I could not hope to duplicate his explanations without at least an outline, and I was listening and enjoying his talk too much to take notes. I suppose this qualifies as a “you had to be there” moment?
Some of my colleagues did take notes, though, and it was interesting to chat with them after the assembly to find out what resonated most with them. One of my fellow English teachers, also a fiction writer, focused on the disparities between micro and macro in the theory of relativity and the metaphor of how big things and little things meshing don’t always make for successful communication.
Christa M. Forster, whose review of Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars showed up here this month as the Women Writers Wednesday series intersected with National Poetry Month, wrote this poem after the assembly.
For Brian Greene, a Poem
You don’t know what matter is
but you know how to stick it
into the cast-iron meat grinder
your sister once convinced you
to put your pinky finger in.
You did it even though
your mother warned you
against doing it.
Your sister with her scrambled
egg curls and Mediterranean eyes
smiled at you and commenced
to grind away your little finger, which,
once she started, was stuck, and you
(only three and no knowledge
of the pink and white fragility
of flesh) saw what it really was:
Christa Forster: Writer, Teacher, Performer whose goal is to make life more meaningful for herself and others through Education and Art. Follow her on Twitter @xtaforster.