EXCERPTS


OUT OF RESPECT FOR AMEDEO AVOGADRO

Michael Lieberman


I swear by Apollo, god of binary decisions—
and chemistry, biology and physics
not to divulge the value of Avogadro’s number
or how it is calculated to anyone
who has not taken high school chemistry.
I will never speak with poets about Apollo and Dionysus
or the role of yeast in bread and wine.
I will not discuss transubstantiation.
If someone should come knocking saying speak,
I will offer cinnabar of mercury and sulfur and retreat.
In a corner of my youth the ideal gas law sleeps—
R, a constant reminder of what connects
the forces of the world.

Poems used with permission of the authors, and may not be re-used without their permission.