by Rochelle S. Cohen
I Hear a Symphony
holes collide in the cosmos,
like cymbals crashing and punctuating
the dramatic climax of a symphony.
Ripples of gravitational waves then flow
across the fabric of space undetectable
to our senses but translated by ingenuity
to an audible sound akin to a bird’s chirp.
A billion years after the collision,
we, the audience, awed and thrilled
by the distant song of space-time,
composer and conductor still unknown,
hear the momentary melody echoing
a concert performed an eternity ago.
Night and Day
For Dr. Jeffrey C. Hall, Dr. Michael Rosbash
and Dr. Michael W. Young
A five am telephone call
came from Stockholm in the fall.
As soon as the three opened their eyes
they learned they won the Nobel Prize.
The Swedish Academy made their pick
for the AHA! that makes us tick.
They unlocked the mysterious black box
holding the secret to biological clocks.
They revealed the keeper of inner time
A discovery nothing short of sublime.
When it came as a propitious surprise
that slumber comes to sleepy fruit flies,
Drosophila’s cycles paved the way
to how we adapt to night and day.
The hidden answer, the three did concur,
is the period gene’s protein called PER.
From rooster’s crowing it’s time to rise
to Sandman’s sprinkling sand in our eyes
by looking through a molecular prism
they found the key to biological rhythm.
A Summer Place
Family reunion, biologists and sea faring
invertebrate kin meet for a summer at the
Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole.
An animal kingdom family tree, a getting
to know all about you research happening
that acquaints us with our aquatic ancestors.
Squid, perhaps the patriarchs of the picnic,
with their goliath nerve fibers - giant axons,
move fast and furious as they furtively squirt
charcoal clouds of ink at the unfamiliar,
masking their swift retreat, Lone Ranger-style
before starring as calamari for dinner al fresco.
And, in an astonishing evolutionary shocker
the acorn worm, an eye-less, ear-less, brain-less
burrowing marine invertebrate, reveals the secret
of how our mind-blowing embryonic brains rely
on “signaling centers,” comparable to those in the
developing worm’s molecular and genetic toolkit.
Even a bit of tabloid gossip, salacious headlines,
“Bdelloid Rotifers: Scandalous Microscopic ‘Wheel
Organisms,’ Survive Successfully Without Sex for
Eighty Million Years.” Like the mythical tribe of Greek
Amazon women warriors, they live in an all-female world,
and persist on pilfered DNA, pirated from other species.
Most remarkable of participants are the Summer Scientists.
Their minds are boundless vessels of insatiable curiosity,
with spirits of exuberant passion, persistence and purpose,
as well as, a laser-beam-like focus on fundamental facts.
Yet, they are souls, who see the beauty of nature like a poet,
and, who seek to understand the elegance of poetry within it.
They took us along on their celestial ride
To see and hear two dead stars collide
One hundred thirty million light-years from here
Van Gogh’s Starry Night made its premier
The astronomers detected a kilonova surprise
With sensors for our ears and for our eyes
A chirp heard from gravitational waves
Light seen from a flash of gamma rays
The reverberations sensed around the world
From two dead neutron stars aft they swirled
And collided in brilliant, burning balls of fire
Stars ablaze in a heavenly funeral pyre
Then came the rain from the firmaments
A deluge of heavy elements
Like a wind casting forth flowers’ petals
Flew platinum and silver, our precious metals
One day you are going to be so bold
And look for the illusive pot of gold
Remember it fell from the cosmos light years ago
And landed at the end of your ephemeral rainbow
Bio for Rochelle S. Cohen
Rochelle S. Cohen is presently Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was the recipient of the 2008 College of Medicine at Chicago Distinguished Faculty Award. She is a neuroscientist with publications in synaptic structure and biochemistry and hormonal effects on brain and behavior. Rochelle is presently studying the Brazilian Portuguese language. Her love of marine biology is reflected in her present endeavor of writing a book of poetry about marine life and science. She was married to the writer and artist Rex Sexton.
Some of these poems were published in: The Avocet, PoetsWest and Lone Stars.firstname.lastname@example.org privacy statement