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              BALANCING THE EQUATION
              ~For an excellent chemistry teacher~

              by Edna Earle Crews


              The concerto of the cicadas this summer reminds
              us of cycles and God's control over His creation.
              They come, the articles tell us, every thirteen years.
              We have according to Scripture three score and ten years.
              Perhaps the cicada came to accompany her through
              the arrival of spring and passing to light.
              Exchanging chemotherapy, radiation, injections,
              drips and tubes for eternal light,
              she prepares to leave us near summer,
              just after the coming of spring.
              She hesitatesóclinging to the green of summer,
              the smell of roses, magnolias, fresh cut grass,
              tomatoes growing in her garden, the hum of the cicadas.
              Family and friends hold her back, praying for a miracle.
              In chemistry classes she controlled the experiments,
              but in these last months chemicals control her.
              Balancing equations, finding unknowns, analyzing
              substances in the lab produced predictable results.
              In her final lab experiment the chemicals did not produce
              logical reactions and the unknown equation gives way
              to the inevitable. Now we know the exchange will come
              somewhat short of three score and ten, exchanging
              darkness for light, pain for joy, finite for infinite.


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    EDNA EARLE CREWS writes to us: "I wrote this poem for my late friend and co-worker, Phyllis H. Lanier, who taught chemistry at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Mississippi. Phyllis fought cancer for several years, and her death was hard for us. We had worked together for many years, and she took writing classes with me at Co-Lin to help her with the stress of caring for her mother, who had Alzheimer's. Her mother lived in her home, and about two years after her mother's death Phyllis discovered she had ovarian cancer. She recovered and was able to teach for about a year and then the cancer moved to her lungs. She was such a fighter.

    "I grew up in Winona, Mississippi, attended Holmes Junior College, and received my undergraduate degree and master's degree from Mississippi College. I taught American literature, English literature, freshman composition, and creative writing at Copiah-Lincoln Community College for 34 years. I sponsored the school's literary magazine Microcosm. The magazine and my students' writing won many first place awards in statewide and regional competitions. Prior to teaching at Co-Lin, I taught in the Jackson (Miss.) Public Schools for six years."


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