What the Eye Perceives            

Rosalind Franklin, 1952

Breeze feathers the lake. Aloft,

an eagle scans, rising on the thermals. 

All fixed eye. All pursuit

of quarry lazing into sight: a fish.

Its green back shaped like yes. Or no. 

An English biophysicist hunches over,

adjusts a microscope’s knurled knob.

Her focal range scans another fresh expanse, a glass slide

whose flotsam shifts its shapes

inside something like a lake, below her.

Anticipation dries her mouth. 

Unstrung proteins waft like water weeds.

Among waves, minnows, cell shreds, 

a small fry of mitochondrial debris, 

a turtle’s back, ruptured nuclei, frogs, 

the eye perceives. The eagle, 

in a sharp turn, dives. 

Franklin’s lab captures photo 51,

our DNA as pure geometry:

our diagram. A folded tight infinity.

Stranger to the world than 

microscopic Cubist origami. 


Eric Forsbergh’s poetry has appeared in JAMA, The Journal of Neurology, and several literary journals. He has been on medical mission trips to Guatemala and Appalachia, and is currently serving as a medical response corps volunteer to combat COVID. 


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