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Summer has been pinched at the wick.
Ribbons of cumulonimbus curl
all the way down the coast.
The sun steps into the hills
like a skipped stone
where colours leach
into the water table.
On the crest of the ridge,
a gull cries at the wind
about her stolen eggs;
you kneel quiet in your garden,
woven sweater and slacks grey
as the world that you tend
except for your hands, lit beneath the skin,
harvesting white roses.
For Francisco and the University of St Andrews Laboratory for Biophysics and Biomolecular Dynamics and Organic Semiconductor Optoelectronics Group
High above the Forth I am birling on girders
round and around my red iron horizon.
The twin Queensferries blur as I whirl.
I choose my own beat, risky as I please.
In your meticulous, dustless lab, your optics trick
and track a marker for your polymers' perpetual
wriggle in the dark. You watch shadows twist and fade
as they pass their sparks along the chain for capture.
So that we may casually flick the light switch,
you must guide your electrons' optimal excitement.
Allow me to be their dancing master. My band
is four-square reliable. You can rerun the results.
I can teach them rumba, conga, zopetto, fandango,
bolero, El Jarabe Tapatío. This joint will jump!
Or take your partners for an Orcadian Strip the Willow.
Born of the Northern Lights, the merry dancers pull together.
Dazzled polymers birl in a chain perpetual, their tiny
hands clap as they gain their second wind.
‘Chemicals from landmines are absorbed into the soil, into the plants and flowers. One of our collaborators works on training bees to detect explosives... they collect it on their hair and transport it to the beehive. Air withdrawn from the beehive is tested for nitroaromatic vapours using light-emitting polymer films made in St Andrews. Please try to include this in the poem. It’s complicated, yes, but it’s important.’ Paulina Morawska, Project TIRAMISU
He’s a natural. It’s in his fur.
Dynamic, magnetic, a real
team player, finally
enjoying his close-up.
Confident, casual, relaxed.
The bee swerves and fifty four eyes
widen. Twenty seven white coats
lean in towards the screen.
The project holds its breath.
They’ve trained this kid
for weeks. His agent
is overwhelmed with pride:
— This bee is dynamite.
Cut to a cold, metallic
sky. Scotland, Fife,
where a film you’ll never see
catches the light,
lingering over a still-
life: dirt, flowers, a hint
of nitroaromatic breath. Far off,
high above the rusting fields,
an insect. Drawn
to an odour, a charge,
the buried sense of something
tarnishing the earth, our bee
smells a rhythm, feels a bright
pulse, hears a bitter taste,
Copyright for 'Summer' remains with Amanda Merritt. Copyright for 'Light fantastic' remains with Helen Nicholson. Copyright for 'Improved Detection of Explosives in Croatia' remains with Tristram Fane Saunders. Copyright for images remains with Kim Bennett, David Ogden and Gerry Priest respectively.
Amanda Merritt, Helen Nicholson and Tristram Fane Saunders for permission to publish their poems.
Kim Bennett, David Ogden, and Gerry Priest for permission to publish their accompanying photographs.