Home > Poetry > The Book of One Hundred Thousand Whys
Rafael Campo
Published: Thu Apr 15 2021
Art: Paul TheriaultEver New (detail), 2022, acrylic and found paper on scavenged wood
The Book of One Hundred Thousand Whys

Each night another page. A crystal formed
from sugar water; photosynthesis
created oxygen from sunlight. How,
like pain or anger, something could be made
from nothing. While they read to me, the dark
side of the moon would spread until no face
was left. I learned to be invisible,
reduced to muck by the industrious
bacteria inside of us. I guessed
we all would die someday: the bird
whose song could be decoded, chimpanzees
intelligent enough to fashion tools,
even my girlish body, soon to be
the man my mirror spurned. I drifted off
upon the puzzle of the bumblebee
too heavy to be carried by its wings;
I dreamed instead I was the weightless wasp,
the hungry maggot turning into me.

See what's inside AGNI 93

Rafael Campo’s most recent book is Comfort Measures Only: New and Selected Poems, 1994–2016 (Duke University Press, 2018). He is the author of six other volumes of poetry and two collections of essays. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Hudson ReviewAGNIPoets.org, Scientific American, and elsewhere. He practices and teaches general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and is poetry section editor of JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. (updated 4/2021)

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