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Left In The Dark

By Liz Newbury


She could not feel the grit of reality

For they had wrapped her in silk

Gently, like a cocoon.

But not to metamorphize.

Silk from head to toe,

Silk ribbon cross her eyes.


She could not touch the earth,

For they had put her on a pedestal,

Carefully, like a voodoo doll.

Not certain of her power.

Wary of her magic,

Wary of her knowing.


They shielded her from the sun,

For fear she might be burned.

Too much sun will melt you.

They kept her from the discourse,

For knowing she could not learn.

Too much knowing kill you.

So They, wanting best for all involved,

Kept her in the shadows.


Too soothe Their conscious,

For They worried about the Right,

An abacus, broken and unwanted,

A plaything for the danger,

Harmless in her hands,

Harmless in the dark.


She learnt to speak, not as a siren,

As they worried she might be,

But as a child, not knowing

What at all to become.

Like Helen Keller, deaf and mute,

She cried out against the Right,

Against the They,

Cried out as a Woman.


They could only hear

Not caring for their encased voodoo doll,

Only heard the faint rattling

Tic-tac, tic-tac

Of a broken abacus.

I Am A Demon

By Liz Newbury

Have you seen me lately?

Oh yes, I.

I am Maxwell’s Demon.

The woman of today,

The Demon of the day before,

Defies the laws of physics.


On the one hand, we have our biology,

Puttering slowly back and forth,

Slow slothful molecules, estrogen.


On the other hand, we have science,

Zipping past like mice on speed,

Great leaps forward, knowledge.


But the woman of today,

The Demon of the day before,

We have, as a matter of course,

Opened that little gate

Between estrogen and knowledge,

And shoved us in.


The woman of today,

Maxwell’s Demon of before,

Have, as a matter, of course,

Forced the piston up,

To 15% active mass.


My entropy

Is equal

To our mass.


I decided that it would only be fair to do something with the part of this course that I found the most mind boggling, and that is poetry making. As I have said in class, I don’t grasp poetry. I can look at a poem and muddle through some sort of deeper meaning, but most poetry is on the same level for me. It’s all poetry, it isn’t good, it isn’t bad, it’s just poetry. We aren’t a match made in heaven.

But I figured it would be challenging for me to try to articulate what I would normally spend five pages of roundabout dialogue discussing, and try to condense it into a few stanzas. Part of this course is about challenging yourself, afterall, to think outside of your normal box.

Both of these poems are a reaction to The Crying of Lot 49. The two analogies that we used in class, that of the princess and that of the Demon, left me wondering if these were connected to how women have been viewed in our previous readings.

I came to the conclusion that it did. It seems that, particularly after considering the Physics classroom for our little ethnographic study, I have become more dissatisfied with the way women are treated in science, both by men and by other women. In the readings I’ve done in and out of class, people attribute our different biologies to support the different ways of treating women. I don’t feel it’s right, to treat women differently for men, whether you are doing it for ‘good’ causes or not.


Left In The Dark:

I started out with the drawing for this poem, trying to describe the woman on the DNA pedestal. It turned out to be a reaction to how I felt coming into the class, taking the imagery of Maas as the princess in The Crying of Lot 49. The way people treated her in this book, and the way she acted herself, gave me the impression that women could never have all of the answers because they are women. Biology is not an acceptable reason to fear someone or bar them from entering the discourse.

This poem is about women being completely left out of science, and, I hope, is more of a historical note than a modern note. The imagery of the abacus is what I am particularly proud of, as it is supposed to represent those token attempts at showing that we haven’t kept women out of science. ‘Look, we gave them a special class all about how to simplify science so that women can understand it!’ Yeah, helpful that, when we are still left out of the discourse.

I originally wanted to draw a comic for this sentiment, showing the Rapunzel figure looking out of her window, then coming down and looking in the mirror and cutting off her hair to use it to let herself down. This is what I wanted Maas to do in the book. Unfortunately, my artistic skills left the woman in the dark.

This was my attempt at being complicated, deep, and meaningful in poetry. This is the type of poetry that baffles me the most, and so I wanted to try it. I also tried very hard to get technology to work with me and let me color in a pretty, artful picture. But my coloring skills also failed me. So when I discovered I don’t really have the touch for pretty poems and pretty pictures, I decided to write something more straight forward.


I Am A Demon

            This one is also a play on the same concept, the fear of women in science. Ever since we analyzed Maxwell’s Demon in class, I couldn’t help but think that I am a demon. I am Maxwell’s Demon to science, though, not molecules. Women in science defies the traditional science that we have been discussing on and off all semester, just as Maxwell’s Demon defies the laws of physics By thrusting women into the scientific discourse, people are worried that they won’t be able to explain what’s wrong with their theory that we don’t fit.

The 15% is the number that, in one of our readings, was supposed to represent the golden ratio for us to get the piston up, for us to have enough women in science to truly change the discourse. The poem is supposed to optimistically project that we are at that mark, or at least, not far from it.

The girl in the picture is supposed to be the opposite of the girl in the previous picture. Whereas the girl in the first picture is very Rapunzel-esk (that’s her hair cascading down and around her), the second girl has cut off her long hair and put it into a more modern ponytail. Her shrug is to represent a sort of, “So what? There’s nothing special about this.”