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Everyday Science
by Bronwen Wallace

I'm working on this theory that the way we think is directly related to the brain's being 80 per cent water. It's an ocean up there, thoughts drifting, shifting on the currents of scent and sound, past lives surfacing like drowned bodies when you least expect, poems nuzzling idle in pools to see what light makes of those hours in the middle of an afternoon, the whole mind, coming Lip, just once, in a splash Of Sun and air, eyes, lungs, a single organ in the glare of a Big Idea. And then there are those schools of slithery thought where most of us spend most of our time, just swimming along. Like the other day, I'm giving blood at the Legion Hall, for the Red Cross, and I drift into that woozy part of it ?? you know, after they've taken the needle out, but before they let you up for the doughnuts and coffee, when you're lying there holding the gauze to your arm, like at the dentist, after he's packed your mouth, whipped Off Your bib and said okay see you in two weeks and you're still trying to concentrate on standing Lip. Well, I'm floating there, surrounded by all these bags of blood and naturally I start meandering along the routes it will take from here, mine flowing into some guy who cuts his finger off in his Cuisinart, say, some banker who thinks nurses are overpaid and everyone on welfare is a lazy slob, while the guy beside me here could be pumping his pint straight into the arms of a radical feminist who figures if they can put one man on the moon, why not all of them, it was almost like drowning, how the possibilities came rushing through me. Even the nurse said to lie down for a while more and someone else brought me a Coke. One sip and I dive into how touch Of it is drunk by Canadians in a single day, enough to fill two Olympic swimming pools and how the friend who told me that ?who knows where she gets this Stuff ?? also claims that the semen ejaculated in one year, in heterosexual intercourse alone, would fill another one?and?a?half and that's just in England and Wales, while the water that evaporates from the earths oceans in one day fills five. I could feet it, surging around my heart, the nurse's smile wobbly, like the sun in a puddle, no telling where it Would flash next, as she launches me toward the doughnuts. I eddy Lip alongside this table, sit down, and the guy across from me looks Lip from his paper and says, "You know what kills more people than cigarettes?" "No." "Loneliness." Arid he shows me the article, his fingers, indignant, darting through the words as if theyd seeped right Out of his own head, taking me off around islands, whales beaching themselves, the sharp, grey warnings dolphins offer. I had so little to give him, so little time, before he heaved himself up and shoved off, leaving cigarette butts, doughnut crumbs, his blood in a bag in a 'fridge back there, his newspaper, open ?? Surgeons Discover Sea Coral Best Substitute For Human Face Bones ?? me, looking Lip from this, just as he Pushes the door out into the afternoon, the heat, the light washing over him. We all hear ?? though we may not he conscious of ?? the heat that thrums through every human conversation. Rhythmic synchrony its called, Our sync sense, which, like the other five, conducts us through the worlds we make of each other, or, in this case, Sets LIS dancing in each other's stops and starts, digressions, turns and leaps of thought, hyperbole, lies, warnings, lovers' cries ?? we move to music, and the scientists who Study this sort of thing (sociolinguistic microanalysts they call themselves) can clock the tempo with a metronome, and score it, too, each eighth note, triplet, rest and syncopation measured as a waltz or a square?dance. The words melody and the body's, too: the eyebrows going Lip or down, the chin's jut, fingers' flex, hands in the air and shoulders coining in on the shrug ?? it's all there and what's more, they say, it's vital to what we listen to, or how. Why, some of them would even claim we learned it way back when, a bunch of us hunting mastodons, say, and needing to know how to throw our spears in unison, on the beat, or hear the cry, clearing its way through all the other cries, that warned us our young were in danger. Such music's all around us, seeded by our mothers' heartbeats, dreamy and persistent as those water memories we know we have, of being horn. It keep,, Lis constantly in auditory touch: in less than 14 milliseconds thoughts in my head translate to muscular movements in my throat and mouth, to airways by Which your eardrum oscillates in absolute synchrony with my voice. SO You Can see how easily the whole thing flies apart if we listen only to the meaning of the words. Most microanalysts would say that We Could end lovers' quarrels, racial conflicts, even the possibility of nuclear War, right now, today, if we'd just go with the music, which is everywhere and everything, the pulse of the atom, the singing of the spheres. All of which brings Us to Dr. SUSUMU 011110, A geneticist in California who has assigned each base of DNA ?? that's adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine ?? musical notes, from which he composes pieces like "Calcium Pump of Rabbit Muscle" or "Mouse RNA Polymerase ll," catchy little tunes that grow more complicated with evolution, so that one?cell protozoa translate to simple four?note repetitions, while a complex slime may be a two?step. And ?? wait, there's more ?? it works the other way, too, a Chopin piece transcribes into the formula for a human cancer gene. And all of this flows, of Course, into what microanalysts say about how the beat doesn't come from the music anyway, but from us, a hit song releasing in everyone a Sort Of rhythmic consensus. So that you could say that the music we use to heal ourselves or bury ourselves, send someone off to war or marriage is actually composed of tears, or adrenalin or those gushy swooshes of the heart that push Lis into each other's arms. Or heads, lungs, eyes, this poem moving into that rhythm which releases you to go and change the baby or the record, catch a bus, take out the garbage. When I think you could say its a scientific fact: how, for a moment in there, maybe two or three milliseconds, your body moves to the beat my thought set Up, just as my hand writes by what it hears Of YOU, Out there somewhere. YOU could almost say that, for a millisecond anyway, we both consent to this, with our whole selves, every strand alight and quivering. These prose poems are from Testimonies: New and Selected Poems, by the late Bronwen Wallace.

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