Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day-Sky Moon (Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge)

One distressing truth in the life of an engineering student is that sooner or later, if the student has any imagination, he realizes that people will be counting on him to get the engineering right, every time. 

Otherwise, disaster! 

This is true for most hard sciences, of course. Wherever science touches people's lives directly, the practitioner must develop a diligent sense of duty to get the science correct. So the student acquires an obligation with the knowledge being learned.

Or sometimes, just has nightmares. That was me, in my sophomore year at college. I had changed engineering majors (from Physics—future job: nuclear engineerto Geology) without bringing down the level of stress. I had taken a hiatus, during which I had married, traveled to South Africa, and worked for DeBeers Diamond. And I had re-dedicated myself to my studies, working through the nightmares that still plagued me.

Then I signed up for a poetry class. Professor Hogan showed me that words had power to build with, no less than the engines I studied in other classes. Here was a relief valve for my troublesome imaginings! One of the pieces I wrote expressed that feeling, inspired by seeing a plumply gibbous moon in the sky as I walked away from a particularly difficult exam, one I knew I had aced.

I have since learned there is often a moon in the daytime sky, but we don't see it. We simply aren't looking up! 

Yesterday in the early-afternoon sky, I saw a sliver of moon in the branches of our oak, and knew what natural-world event I would write about for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge this week:

March 25, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include a juxtaposition between the ordinary and natural worlds. It can be civilization and nature; an edifice and a nest or cave; a human act and a natural occurrence; acculturation and adaptation. Compare or contrast as the prompt leads you to write.

The two verses in the flash below were first written in 1979, and published in the literary magazine of the Colorado School of Mines, High Grade

Day-Sky Moon

Sometimes it's hard being me. I wake from nightmares of making mistakes that doom thousands of lives, and remember that I have an exam today in the very subject I dreamed. 

Other days, everything falls into place. I can engineer anything, even words. Under a daytime moon, I assemble doggerel poetry to express it:
All my shirts got buttons,
All my toast got jam,
Woke no fears this morning 
Of being who I am.
Got things ticking smoothly,
Got things going right.
Got a moon in the morning sky
For a little extra light.

Sometimes it's easy being me.