Nobel Induction

I was twenty years a natural philosopher,
twenty years born: I remember feeling urgent need
to bow before I shook
his hand. I lowered my head. Gerhard Herzberg: Square
and smiling, gentle
man, white-haired, refugee, spectroscopist,
genius with atoms, electrons, photographic plates,
pencil and paper,
hero. He was my first, his
hand the only
sure thing on my diploma.

Since then, with men who can
ionize the air through which they slip,
I have eaten pork pies with mustard, sipped Amontillado,
listened, every neuron poised, I have dared to argue, I
have dreamed of molecules dancing with photons,
I have scratched out dreams
on ragged loose-leaf paper (daring to draw on the same
sheet, frowning, laughing, light-
headed), I have split pitchers of beer. I have
called these men
colleagues, breathed the ozone left
in their wake--
dizzy, hungry.

JDP 97/10

Copyright John D Porter © 1997

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