Friday, January 11, 2019

Wisdom 101

Preparing for class,
For an introductory
Course full of first-year students,
First-generation students,

Who had signed up to fulfill
A science requirement
At a time that worked for them,

A course that might be
Interesting, not too boring
Or hard, anthropology,

The professor found
An illustrative passage
In the textbook’s first chapter

Meant to demonstrate
And difference between
Mythic origin stories

And the origin stories
Built collaboratively
Then tested by scientists.

Pretty much what you’d expect.
A human family story,
With earth and sun for parents,
Stars and rivers, trees and beasts

For fratricidal offspring,
They contrasted to physics,
An introductory text
Without any math,

Narrating the successions
Of particles emerging
In the wake of the Big Bang.

The professor paused.
There in the drab procession
Of subatomic begats,

Like a gem in the ashes,
One perfect sentence glinted
In transparent pathetic
Fallacy—human, tragic—

“No muons survive
The muon slaughter.”
There’s your anthropology.

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