Language, Indexing Reality
Abstractus—‘drawn away.’ I need to be.
What exists in the mind, blue and intact, but not in physical form.
To briefly inhabit ideal problem space, where we distill what is common from everyday phenomena. See the similarity in what is disguised by life as dissimilar. Reduce events to identical mathematical points.
But yes, too many blue hydrangeas.
Once we’ve taken the differences away, what is left?
Idea: Take juggled bowling pins, wobbling tennis rackets, a rotating ax tossed underhand—remove the objects, and what is the subject? What’s left is parabolic motion.
And this can be done again: center of mass, conservation of energy, harmonic motion, rotational inertia.
Lily-of-the-valley, lilac, sweet autumn Clematis—these whites will do in the moonlight.
We are in the present tense. A honeybee homes in on its hive,
a bug crawls outward on a horizontal turntable,
a bead slides on a wire, a racing car moves on a circle,
a small ball is fastened to a long rubber band and twirled,
a buzzing fly moves in a helical path, an ant crawls on the surface of a ball,
a baseball is dropped from the top of the Empire State Building.
Requiring a great capacity for the busy population of now.
A gambler hires a physicist and an engineer to help him predict which horse will win the race.
In the final analysis, the physicist’s projections are way wrong. What happened? The physicist,
baffled, says he solved the problem the same way he always does: a spherical horse travels on a
frictionless track with no wind resistance at a constant speed….
I am entering a peculiar strangeness,
where a thousand questions can be asked about a block of mass m on an incline.
Where physical systems usually begin at rest.
Where there are force diagrams, whose arrows are barely referential.
There are perfect spheres and frictionless pulleys and constant velocities.
I do not ask why a spherical ball is attached to a spring underwater.
Or why a person stands on a bathroom spring scale while riding in an elevator.
Or an armadillo scampers left and right along an x axis.
Problem space, the water’s fine.
The answers will make the questions meaningful.
Only what happens matters.
Remove the physicality of bugs and beads and balls, and only objects remain.
Objects that drop from height h at time t with velocity v.
Real and mental constructs.
Every scenario, posed such that:
in a spiral path such that,
outward on a radial line such that,
twirled in such a way that….
Imperatives: Find the acceleration. Find the speed as a function of time. Show that.
What sort of path is represented by the above equations?
Learn to describe motion symbolically, as you have learned to use your words.
Delphinium, Jack Frost, and Arabella—all one moonlight garden.
Jessica Reed’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Waxwing; 111O; North American Review; Bellingham Review; Conjunctions; Tinderbox Poetry Journal; Spiral Orb; Kudzu House Quarterly; The Fourth River; and Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing. She has an MFA in poetry and a BS in physics, and lives in Indiana with her husband and seven buff chickens.