Its flat boxes holding unprettied letters and numbers
in a seemingly anything-goes polygonal frame
bearing no resemblance to anything familiar.
If anything, its name recalls unnatural aromas
and longings for class to end, now, now.
The teachers forget to tell their students:
The Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements
is a mandala of creation.
It is every color, every texture.
It is the encryption
of every thing that ever was, is, or, will be.
They forget to say:
Take off your goggles and gloves
and stare at the Table as if it were
the Burning Bush itself.
They forget to teach their students
to praise the omnipotence of the Table’s
mix-and-match atoms that are
the fountain even of matter that thinks and weeps
and comes to know of universes.
The Table should be set in a rococo frame,
gold-leafed and intricate,
flanked by candles day and night,
never coiled up like a window shade
unfurled merely for academic reference.
© Ivan Amato, 2002.