Hey, Antoine Lavoisier

Issue TwelveIssue Twelve PoetryPoetry

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by Lorraine Gibson

 

I’m drinking ancestors’ tears,

praising their liquid forms — sip, sip —

savouring them oh so slowly

in my evening G&T (or two) &

pissing them out all warm

& mellow (for posterity).

I like to visualise late Uncle Ken

(an avid birder) feathered & re-born,

nesting on a patch of grass — ruffling

rain across his plover’s sooty helmet.

Many happy returns Uncle Ken!

Swimming has never really been my thing, yet

given the opportunity I’d stream along with

long-gone buddy Jamie — jostling rocks

like naughty adolescents — frothing

down New Zealand’s icy Rotorua rapids.

I know that some of us have fingers crossed

for our re-birth, but don’t you think there are

too many Marilyn Monroes and Charlemagnes?

And let’s not talk of Egypt!

I wonder why so many elements

return in sentient form.

What hordes became the concrete pylons

holding up the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Who might now be swooshing

through white ripples — as an orange

fishing lure — for turbot?

Notoriously difficult to catch I hear;

just like my long-gone Aunty Mae

— the boys loved her.

You too will touch the stuff of ancestors

as we travel through our time-bound days.

Perhaps you’ll suck them

on a blob of oozing  Brie de Meaux scooped

from a milk-white platter, laden with

ripened figs and apricots.

Perhaps you left them, quietly

suffocating by the roadside

in their mother’s pouch.

Perhaps you mingled with them

eons ago, within the throat

of summer’s swallow as she reached

to feed her fledglings.

Dear fellow human,

please remember:

WE are seven octillion atoms moving

in one mighty dance until — well

— until our present feet are still.

 

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was a French chemist living in the eighteenth century (1743-1794). His discovery of the Law of Conservation of Mass found that while matter may change its shape, the mass of any closed system can neither be added to or removed.