• Thu. Dec 3rd, 2020

The Noble Gases

Edited by Dava Sobel

High-born, not like those other elements,
The common riffraff, the ones
All too ready to mix it up.

From the right tower of the periodic table
They appraise their inferiors,
Arrayed in colored boxes as far as they can see.

Dancing lightly on the parapet,
Helium waves her party balloons
Of yellow, red, and blue.

A level down, in her flaming orange-red dress,
Neon shows a leg and shouts into the darkness
Her cry of freedom.

Argon chats with his neighbor below,
Krypton explaining again she’s not a planet
That exploded, nor a danger to anyone, caped or not.

Flashy and rakish (but naturally so), Xenon
Flaunts his electric suit of lavender,
Nearly blinding all who look in his direction.

Radon draws something from his invisible pocket,
Bows, and casts seeds on the unaware,
Bids them gently into that good night.

And on the ground floor, Oganesson blinks out,
Half her life gone in less than a millisecond,
Happy to be in a poem—or in anything at all really.