Science & Technology
Childhood Montage with Liquid Nitrogen

Melting in and out,
I hear his heavy step
on the stairs.

I’m milking childhood.

Nature is pretty, and deserves
all her feminine names.

He was a scientist.

He took me to his lab
and showed me the beaker
of liquid nitrogen
where I could lose my fingers.

They’d freeze and fall off.

Mist curled in tongues
and rose toward the ceiling.

A movie set.

Then he turned and left
me at the mahogany desk.

I drew a tree.

Its branches tempted me.

I chewed the pencil’s yellow.

A window darkened to a mirror.

Fear kept me for an hour
in the large wooden chair.

I sat cross-legged, elbows drawn in,
my limbs slipping
through the captain’s arms.

Photo Credit:US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Copyright 2008,  Judith Skillman

Judith Skillman’s most recent book Heat Lightning: New and Selected Poems 1986 – 2006 was published in 2006 by Silverfish Review Press. The Carnival of All or Nothing is forthcoming in 2009 from Cervéna Barva Press. Her website is

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