Jo Shapcott

Love in the Lab Requires Real Player.

Jo Shapcott has been a Writers Fellow at the British Library, has been winner of the 1999 Forward Poetry Prize and the only poet to be twice winner of the National Poetry Competition, She stands out with an imaginative challenge among contemporary poets .Her work has been described as, 'Poems which have a way of turning physics into the physical'.

One day
the technicians
touched souls

as they exchanged
everyday noises
above the pipette.

Then they knew
that the state of molecules
was not humdrum.

The inscriptions
on the specimen jars
which lined the room in racks
took fire in their minds:

what were yesterday
mere hieroglyphs
from the periodic table

became today urgent proof
that even here -
laboratory life -
writing is mystical.

The jars glinted under their labels:
it had taken fifteen years
to collect and collate them.

Now the pair were of one mind.
Quietly, methodically
they removed the labels
from each of the thousands
of jars. It took all night.

At dawn, rows of bare glass
winked at their exhausted coupling
against the fume cupboard.

Using their white coats
as a disguise
they took their places at the bench
and waited for the morning shift.

Copyright: Jo Shapcott