Experiment 6.13.22

I believed science experiments
were simple. Classrooms fill
always with endless questions
after hasty explanations of acids
and bases. Every reaction seems
instantaneous. Dump this liquid
into a flask, wear those goggles,
slide on the flimsy plastic gloves,
be careful, pesky adults rebuke. I find
a girl underneath the oak table,
high ceiling yawning above, creaky
old fans chittering. Like grandparents
fussing over a child forgetting to attend
church, who had told them his clock
chose to break at that very moment.
I pull out soothing words, it will be
a derivation of the cliché
it will be okay. I ask for the girl’s
hands, to lead her out, I guess,
and I crouch beneath the table, feel
a part of my back crack in trying to
bend beneath. In this patch of floor
cold with disuse the dust gathers
beneath her fingers, and I say now
what will your parents think,
of course. Stray markers lie on floor,
bottles clink, the poor teacher at
the podium yells for some silence.
To the girl, I sigh, wait
and count to ten in my head,
turn, and it is then, I hear, why
are you sitting here too?
Her face
spills with a smile so quickly
everywhere at once,
so easily,
I suppose I can only gape at the aftermath. She gets up,
strands of her hair barely brushing
the surface of the wood, wisps of stuck gum
and cobwebs line the corners
of my vision. The class erupts now
cheering, every eye on the foam
from the many glasses, bursting.

Jessica Hsu is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. When they're not writing poetry, they enjoy running and playing music.

See more of Jessica's work in 11.2

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