To See the Big Picture, Look for the Smallest Clues
by Alarie Tennille

An electron microscope reveals
our red blood cells as rose petals—
while viruses resemble sci-fi monsters,
and pollens morph into medieval instruments
of torture. Apparently we’re not imagining
the way they spike through the citadel
walls, impale our sinuses.

What of the soul? Does it hide
in another dimension? Pose right
in front of us, a case of not seeing
what we don’t expect? Do scientists
wonder about an occasional shimmer
across the slide?

Would you dare to look at yours?

PAINTING: Accent on rose by Wassily Kandinsky (1926).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At age four and a half, my parents learned that I was severely visually impaired. The world didn’t exactly come into focus with my first glasses, but it was so much brighter and more beautiful than I’d imagined that I’ve been sneaking as close as possible to see every detail ever since. I’ve merged my love of art and what I see with my writing. I’m especially fond of microscopic views and the miniatures in dollhouses. Since writing a poem about the differences between happy and sad tears under microscope a few years ago, I sometimes go rummaging through the internet for more astonishing mini worlds on slides.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alarie Tennille was a pioneer coed at the University of Virginia, where she earned her degree in English, Phi Beta Kappa key, and black belt in Feminism. Now retired, she’s lived over half her life in Kansas City, Missouri, where she serves on the Emeritus Board and Programming Committee of The Writers Place. Alarie’s latest poetry book, Three A.M. at the Museum, premiered in June 2021. She hopes you will visit and subscribe (for free) to her website at There you can find sample poems, her blog, and links to all her poetry books.