Camille-Yvette Welsch

Scientific Inquiry

In the Boston Museum of Science,
the girl scouts spend the night,
bartering to sleep with the dinosaurs
or along the balcony, so that the sun
will wake them as it slides through
the Harbor. The day before they sleep,
the view the night sky in the planetarium’s
round room. They learn that stars are too far
to know, that whole galaxies elude us, drifting
off somewhere beyond what telescopes can see,
but here, on the ceiling, the stars take shape, connected
by lines that create pictures, and with them, sense.
Here, a bear, there, seven sisters, holding hands.
In one exhibit, they walk through a heart,
hear their own voices ring in the separate chambers,
a shrill heartbeat. They see the body, bare
of its skin, with onion peels of organs and vessels,
tall invisi-skinned statue, wired in veins.
They learn that there is too much to see
all at once. The body cannot reveal itself
in that way. They learn to take it slowly,
to ask permission before lifting the plastic layers:
a bulky liver, floppy lungs, hinged ribs that open
like a tabernacle. They ask with their eyes
looking up, all question and expectation and clarity.
They know more will be revealed in this body.
But for now, when they turn to run,
they grab the hand of the girl beside them,
their clamped palms a damp commitment.

Camille-Yvette Welsch
Poem, copyright © 2006 by Camille-Yvette Welsch
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2006, From the Fishouse