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Original artwork by Anna Mansueti

The Chemist

Patrick Beath

My grandfather held patents,

banal intricacies ticking inside his head.

I only knew the tickle monster:

the knuckle in the ribs, the grasp of the knee,

the struggle to pull air from the edges of elation;

and yellows: nicotined fingertips, fizzed highballs of

scotch and soda.

Yellows of sunrise and sunset, mine and his.

Sulfured pulp and ligneous page.

The word is, he’d have had

no patience for this:

A man of science does without


But the word is also: I can wear

a suit like him. And banal intricacies

swim in my head, too.