Friday, September 28, 2007

Poetry Friday: Locked In

This is too cool. That's the Orion Nebula M42, and the photo was taken, at my request, by a PROMPT telescope in Chile, and emailed to me. The telescope (and five others) were funded by National Science Foundation Grants, and are primarily used to study gamma ray bursts, but students and teachers in North Carolina also use them to remotely observe the Southern Hemisphere night sky. Try it! Go here to request a picture of your own.

And now, for Poetry Friday:

Locked In

The doctors say he is alive
in there, all his thoughts
as hot as ever,

but his body is frozen,
disconnected from will.
They watch

his brainwaves and teach him
to mark letters with slight
shifts in his alpha

so he can spell his name
for the applauding staff.

I wonder then: when we die,
do we make the stars to speak
our fiery thoughts?

And do the living, those chill,
earth-locked living, who mark
our cries

on their astronomical
charts, at last applaud
our names?

----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Poetry Friday is hosted by AmoXcalli today.


  1. Ooh.


    It's taking me a moment to say more than that, because I am blown away by your poem, and the photo, and the two together.

    I believe I must quote Mr. Slinger, from Lily's Purple Plastic Purse: "'Wow.' That was just about all he could say. 'Wow.'"

  2. Wow from me, too. The photo and poem are just ....well, the photo is awesome, in the truest sense of the word. The poem is beautiful.

  3. Sara,

    Great Poetry Friday post! I love your poem. I have a passion for both poetry and astronomy. Isn't the universe fascinating? I think many of the photos that have been taken by the Hubble telescope inspire the writing of poetry.

    My elementary students used to write some of the greatest poems about space when we did our unit on astronomy.

  4. S,
    Having just read an interview yesterday with Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy, about how they wrote this book together, and knowing that he now moves a muscle in his cheek to communicate -- this smacks me right in the heart. Beautiful.

  5. Hi Sara,

    Your picture is so cool!

    I liked your poem too--thanks for sharing it.


  6. Thanks for all the "wows" guys...I feel that way about the stars. They are so much more awesome that anything I could have dreamed of creating.

    TadMack, I read that interview with Hawking too--really good. And you're right, it ties in with my thoughts here, although I wrote the first drafts of this poem several years ago. I had read a newspaper article reporting on monitoring brain wave patterns to communicate with "locked in" patients, and was just floored. I'd have to dig through my files to see where the original article came from.

    Anyway, I was moved to go back and work on this poem after my daughter emailed me about the PROMPT site. She works at the planetarium which hosts the PROMPT educational programs.

  7. OOOOh this poem gives me chills! I will definitely have to try that PROMPT site. How cool!

  8. Astounding Sara. Simply astounding. I love visiting your blog for the amazing content and beautiful poetry. Thank you so much. You've opened my eyes to so many beautiful things.

  9. Awesome and sublime don't begin to describe it.

  10. You've done it again. Amazing.

  11. Today I read that Brian May of Queen had recently been awarded a doctorate in astrophysics, then I get home and read this. I'm inspired to look up tonight.

    Great poem. Thanks for the input on how you wrote it. I was about to ask if you wrote it prior to the PROMPT photo or not but you answered my questions above.

  12. Hi Sara! I just read your book and loved it! Loved Cadence's voice and imagination (so, YOUR imagination) and the way you treated the subject of depression. I'm bringing it to Chicago so you can sign it for me -- can't wait to meet you!

  13. Laini, so glad you liked Rapunzel. Faeries of Dreamdark:Blackbringer rocked. I can't wait to meet you in Chicago. Is your hair still pink?

  14. Dude -- you "accidentally" yelled at Gene Luen Yang that he's sexy? How does one yell by accident?

  15. So you caught that, did you, Kelly? ;)

  16. All I can say is that I kinda felt like I was at a rock concert.


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