Surface Tension

A close-up of a bubble, in a hemisphere, radiant with teal, indigo, and fuschia.

Of course there are people behaving badly
during this pandemic, using it as an excuse
to practice prejudice, to hoard, to blame;
using it to divide and weaken us,
cashing in on surface tensions
for their own terrible benefit.
The news daily shows these heavy things.

In nature surface tension gathers
water molecules together so tightly
that they form a sort of membrane
across which light things can dance—
Leaves, insects, the wavering sun.
It is why rain falls in discrete drops
and babies can blow bubbles.

Surface tension makes life possible.
It helps drops collect along
subtle edges of pine needles or leaves,
run down to water roots, then helps sap
rise to nurture those same
gatherers of sun and water..
Bitter tannins in chartreuse mosses
increase the tension so larger drops can form,
held aloft by their fragile villi
until they can be absorbed,
or used to foster new life.*

Here’s the other picture revealed by this pandemic.
People are reaching out in kindness and concern
to acquaintances, neighbors, strangers
creating aquifers, revealing watersheds running
through the tiny capillaries of human hearts,
minds, homes, streets and neighborhoods.

Could the bitter tannins cause such large drops
to form that we can scarcely hold them up
until they can be absorbed?
Until we can use them to foster life?

Let us open ourselves wide to gather them
So we may send them to the suffering, the grieving,
the caregivers, and all the workers who always were essential.
Let us send them across all those spurious divisions
because there is a deeper, humbler, more beautiful truth.
We deeply need one another, especially now.
We can pull together across distances to form a surface
Across which light things can dance and which can nurture life.

*for this knowledge I am indebted to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s work.