“Collision Theory” a poem by Kiran Damodaran ’17

Molecular-collisionsThe following poem by Kiran Damodaran ’17, written in NA’s Creative Writing Workshop, was published in the Claremont Review, an international literary magazine for young writers. Kiran also won a National 2016 Scholastic Silver Medal for Poetry.



Collision Theory

I. The molecules must collide.

A proof of collision theory;
you were spinning too fast and I came in at just the wrong time,
connected in just the wrong way.
Your rejection broke me apart like hydrolysis,
separating me into single, unstable molecules.

You simply weren’t an active element,
you had no holes that needed filling, no valence electrons;
you were stable. I, on the other hand,
was full of spaces, just looking for someone to fill them.

You needed a catalyst
to speed up the reaction, to force us into contact.
We skipped a few steps, the insignificant intermediate ones,
going straight from A+B→D,
from strangers to lovers.

II. The molecules must collide with proper orientation.

The equilibrium was shaky,
our concentrations, imbalanced
We both had a mass of one,
but you in kilograms and me, in nanograms.
My mass was so small that I didn’t even register on your balance.

But together we formed a complete molecule,
our masses irrelevant because our moles were equal.
There were stresses – changing concentrations, new pressures –
and things got heated, but our bond survived.

Our force was incalculable,
pointing upwards into the oblivion far over our heads.
The equation failed us because we couldn’t be defined
by numbers, by mass, by acceleration,
because they did not calculate the constant, the k,

III. The molecules must collide with sufficient energy.

Our molecules collided,
our screams, under the moonlight,
our whispers, as the sun rose,
our lips, on a Sunday morning,
each action with an equal and opposite reaction.

But the equilibrium was broken,
the catalysts removed,
the constant wavering,
our forces, unequal.

A proof of collision theory;
if the collision doesn’t bear enough energy,
the molecules will bounce off one another
unchanged. I am the exception,
the molecule who undergoes a reaction,
decomposing into undefined ions.

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