You are—selector, protector, a room within room.
What small engines churn within your shell,
         to deny some, yet others consume -
arcane patterns we hunt & hope to tell

              the world of with sudden clarity?
  Our work is life’s slight, structured reactions,
        and already your secrets unfurl. The sincerity
of form uncovered in diffractions

             of glances—light scattered off chance surface & angle.
Yours is a language we care to learn. Construct, Catalyze, Combine.
       Gorgeous tangle
   of music with its own meter, the mined

poetry of hexamer, pentamer, trimer. What else will we find,
        these small machines, their obscure unwindings?

This Shakespearean sonnet considers the ongoing exploration of protein-based organelles known as bacterial microcompartments, and some of the investigative techniques used in the data collection (e.g., small angle x-rays as “light scattered off chance surface & angle”). A structured sonnet felt like a fitting form, as well as the medium of poetry at large—the three conserved “core” shell protein types known as hexamer, pentamer, trimer have natural counterparts in the poetic rhythms of hexameter, pentameter, and trimeter.

High Resolution Image

About the Image

Graphic created by CCBC for the Poetry and Science Art Contest II at the 2023 DOE EFRC-Hub-CMS-CSS Principal Investigators’ Meeting.


Dr. Connor Yeck, Dr. Daniel Ducat, Dr. Josh Vermaas, Dr. Cheryl Kerfeld
Total Votes

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