My poetry is always inspired by the most random subjects, and my latest attempt at poetry was inspired by my chemistry class. This past year I’ve been taking chemistry, which is arguable my favorite scientific discipline, and I especially enjoyed learning about gases, pressure, and intermolecular forces.
Anyway while contemplating my chemistry final the other night, I began thinking about surface tension and the SOFAR channel, the latter which I first heard of in Sam Kean’s book Caesar’s Last Breath. I don’t know, surface tension just felt like the perfect metaphor for how life can be at times, where you just float above chaos, held up by tenuous threads of sanity.
The SOFAR channel, on the other hand, is a layer of water in the ocean where the speed of sound is at a minimum which allows low frequency sound waves to travel clearly for extremely long distances before vanishing. There are also counterparts to the SOFAR channel in the atmosphere, where certain layers of gas act as waveguides. This concept fascinates me. I don’t know why, but it just makes me picture a set of speakers that give a really clear sound, filling up every cubic centimeter of space. And I figured this would be a great metaphor for feelings that just overwhelm all your senses. I’m sure that’s not really accurate, but what can I say, science gets my imagination going.
All these rambling thoughts combined into the following poem.
As I float on the surface,
Gazing up at the stars,
I feel the weight of the sky depressing my chest.
My heart beats rapid, fast,
But I do not struggle;
I do not thrash.
And as the sky grows closer
And the I lose my breath,
My heart stills, resigns to fate.
Then slowly, but suddenly, the surface breaks,
And I am swallowed whole;
The weight of the sky replaced by Death.
Alive am I still,
Carried by the current between life and death,
I float suspended in a channel,
Disconnected from the above and the below,
My pain and the world’s is amplified back to me,
Burning my nerves, my senses, my fears,
My voice is drowned to all but myself,
Floating in this channel of misery,
My chest no longer burns or breaks with sorrow,
Rather rising and falling rhythmically,
I rise with the tide to the surface,
leaving behind both pain and misery,
Now I float on the surface,
Gazing up at the stars,
And I feel the weight of the sky depressing my chest.
– by the Author