The Stuff of Life

My daughter revises chemistry,

with a little help from brother.

(our family expert on such things)

whilst I listen on,

baffled by the formulas and names

the purpose of it all,

like a freshwater fish

all at sea with the brine

I need to be heard,

to matter amongst the matter,

add weight to the atoms of this foreign world.

‘What is the stuff of life?’ I ask,

rhetorically of course…

‘Carbon’ he replies,

unflinching certainty of youth

compressing full, firm lips,

his father’s lips,

as different to mine

as alkali from acid

‘Why no’ I reply

‘It’s Love’

His face creases,

laughter has no formula,

he has his mother’s eyes...


◄ Human Nature

The Yeung Sing Hotel ►


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barrie singleton

Tue 22nd Oct 2013 22:07

Ah ha! Now I understand your approval of my weavings Isobel. We're after the same rainbow's end. Cracking creativity Gromit.

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Thu 14th Apr 2011 15:00

Enjoyed this,Isobel! Easy to read,but a bittersweetness to your observations! Funny as well,the academic 'carbon',contrasted with 'why,no,it's love'.Lovely!x

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John Togher

Thu 14th Apr 2011 13:09

Great poem.

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Wed 6th Apr 2011 21:57

Thank you everyone - I'm glad what I was trying to say came across. My son, who inspired the poem, hates it of course! He thinks it makes him sound like a geek...
He is one of those long haired youths who wears his trousers round his knees with his underpants and arse all on show. I suppose helping your little sister with chemistry and being at all knowledgeable about anything just doesn't go with the image!

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Rachel Bond

Wed 6th Apr 2011 16:55

great poem, the father's lips, the mothers eyes, say so much. really clever :)

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Rachel McGladdery

Wed 6th Apr 2011 16:24

Just downright bloody lovely this :) it made me smile x

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Ray Miller

Mon 4th Apr 2011 22:36

Enjoyed it very much, it's good to move from one's family to bigger things then back again.
I'd suggest

like a freshwater fish

all at sea with the brine

I flounder and need to be heard,

because I can never pass up a fish joke.

<Deleted User> (9186)

Mon 4th Apr 2011 22:23

Laughter has no formula just one of the great phrases in this poem which make it so good

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Cate Greenlees

Mon 4th Apr 2011 16:18

Beautiful! I love the way your poetry is maturing and not as "angry" as your rants used to be. Although its a mark of a good poet that they can encompass various styles. And Joe deffinitely has your laughing brown eyes!
Cate xx

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Chris Co

Sat 2nd Apr 2011 21:16

I liked it from the line 'what is the stuff of life'. In fact it actually really works as a minimalist piece from that line onward as well.

I like the orientation of the answer and its gentleness.

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Sat 2nd Apr 2011 17:04

Thank you Graham - I'm glad it worked for you. I'd just like to point out that the line about acid/alkali wasn't intended as a pop at my ex at all. Acids and alkalis were being discussed during revision so I am staying close the true story. They are also total opposites which is quite an accurate reflection of our personalities - no-one being at fault for that.

The poem is looking at how curious it is when our children inherit different traits from our own. My son is not arty at all - sees the world in quite literal, concrete terms. There is always common ground somewhere though - I hope that comes across. x

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Graham Sherwood

Sat 2nd Apr 2011 10:49

When I write, I just hope that in the piece somewhere there can be a killer line/word/expression etc.
"To matter amongst the matter" Genius! Isobel
I also like your observation (easy for a mum) of his father's lips but your eyes. Well done Isobel, another well written piece.

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Elaine Booth

Fri 1st Apr 2011 21:14

Enjoyed this - the "certainty of youth", great words. I love your son's answer very much - without carbon there'd be no love! Perfect. xxx

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Dave Bradley

Fri 1st Apr 2011 19:40

Love it!

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Fri 1st Apr 2011 16:21

I really like this, Isobel... both the question and YOUR answer!

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