Yesterday, after picking up my roommate at the airport, I had to drive her to her lab in the ISC to feed her cells. Currently they’re looking at cancer cells and watching growth patterns. She said I could see the lab if I drove her there after the airport and I figured why not. When we walked into the lab room (which was a lot messier than I expected), she prepared herself (ie. washed hands, put on the goggles, and other lab safety things) and like a kid in a china shop, I walked around the room with my hands behind my back. Then I found a seat at the middle lab table strewn with plastic pipettes, lab packets, highlighters, empty petri dishes, and other items that shouted biology. At the table, I saw a lab packet with a paper towel note explaining that the one lab partner used a specific chemical but he promised to replace it soon and not to worry. Because I tend to be a little mischievous I decided to leave a note too.
The original note (on the left) reminded me of Williams’ poem (on the right) because of its content. Person A, the speaker (in this case Anthony), takes something of Person B’s and wants to let him know that it was Person A who did it and not anyone else. However, Person A in the original note promises to replenish what he took. The speaker in William Carlos Williams’ poem does not promise anything like the sort. I read this poem in high school and college and it was interpreted in many different ways. But I was always stuck whether or not the speaker was actually remorseful or only sorry because the plums were that delicious. After reading Anythony’s note, I knew I had to leave Williams’ poem. As I copied the poem from my phone, I was giggling to myself so my roommate asked, “What are you up to?” And by the time she came over and saw it, she just burst out laughing.
“What is that?” she asked. I looked incredulous and asked if she ever read it in high school. It’s the infamous plum poem (or “This is Just to Say”) by William Carlos Williams. “That’s a poem?! I thought you were just leaving a really weird note.” As we left the room she said, “Of course you would leave poetry in a science room.”
“But there’s poetry in science!” I replied. She rolled her eyes but laughed.
And from there, I decided to start my own experiment. I told her to watch her lab group and see if any of them recognized the poem. I was really biology-focused in high school but this poem still stuck out to me (mostly because 11th grader-Christina was confused why it was a poem too). My roommate argued that these were the people who never even heard of The Twilight Zone so she doubts that anyone will know poetry. They’re so science-oriented and focused. This note is my own experiment in the lab. Will anyone notice the note? Will anyone understand it at all? I suppose that even not knowing the poem, it’s still a pretty funny note to see (especially because food isn’t allowed in the lab).