Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

Minor modifications (in the history of science)

Anthony Purdy

Everything is leaf, he said,
being Goethe;
but being Goethe, the words he said
came out quite different:

alles ist Blatt,
is what his trusty Eckermann heard,
though some say misheard
and what the great man really said was:

alles ist platt;
which might have sparked displaced debate
in generative phonology
while setting back for years to come

our mental grasp
of nature’s metamorphic plants
with shapes as shifting as the clouds
that Howard sought to name

without the box, without the frame,
dispensing with the flatness of the table
to keep them dancing in the sky,
that every gaze might henceforth name

that’s not afraid to modify.


Anthony Purdy lives and writes in Nova Scotia. Recent publications include stories in the spring and summer 2020 issues of Queen’s Quarterly, as well as poems in the Goose, Prairie Fire, the Dalhousie Review, and the Fiddlehead. Further poems are forthcoming in Prairie Fire, the Dalhousie Review, and Queen’s Quarterly.