TASP – the absence of field

This week’s poem I found at Dr. Crazy’s Poetry Friday. Unlike me, she really knows (and teaches) stuff about poetry. Unfortunately, she did not explain about this one. I’ll just say I like it, and write down some science-associations at the end of this post.

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Mark Strand

The first line of this poem is already sciency: field is a widely-used concept in physics, after all. There are velocity fields, electric and magnetic fields, gravity fields, photon fields, and so on. (NL: het deed me denken aan mijn postje over voetbal- en andere velden op het oude Qulog.) And then there’s the bit of aerodynamics in the middle: “When I walk, I part the air and always the air moves in to fill the spaces where my body’s been”.


  1. …field is a widely-used concept in physics, after all…

    I was thinking about the more general mathemetical fields. I was at a talk once, where someone used a corn field as a metaphor for something rather difficult and a professor objected to the use of the world field, since it was not really a mathematical field…

  2. I’m not sure I remember what a general mathematical field is (heette dat niet “lichaam” in het nederlands? om het ingewikeld te maken?)…

    Actually, I think the professor you write about has a point: in this case, it seems a bit stupid, everyone knows the cornfield is an analogy, but in general it can be quite confusing to use ‘technical’ terms in a colloquial sense, in a technical talk. (Zie ook weer dat voetbalveld-postje…) Okay, maybe you shouldn’t avoid these words completely, which is probably impossible anyway, but at least make clear in what way you’re using them. Maybe even (in some cases, in the talk you described probably not: I assume the audience was aware of the concept field, mathematical and otherwise) use the differences in interpretation to explain your point.

  3. culleyb

    A field is a class of vector spaces in abstract algebra.

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