The Center for Atmospheric Research

By Bin Ramke b. 1947 Bin Ramke
Pei designed the building with views,   
smooth masonry, and the mountains aligned
for a photo opportunity; inside are files
sufficient for forever, for fine tuning weather.

Great Spangled Fritillary, the watcher vaguely recalls
from Teach Yourself Lepidoptery, a book.
He wanted to live in a land of appropriate weather
with views of mountains and with music constant.

He wants to tell a story but no one would listen,
like opera: Black women clean the floors
and shine the walls like silver nightly.
Computers whir Platonic as nuns. Nothing

escapes naming; storms arranged in teacups
like anyone’s collection, like rows of butterflies
pinned and satisfactory: this is the new landscape.
Or there is a lewd father among the shrubbery

watching daughters in weather; he breathes heavily
and the wet wisdom begins, the storm gathering
to spill across the ridge, longed for.
Daughters must be warned against sincerity

of frantic violins: “He was a man of sympathetic   
tendencies,” read the official report. “He was
smaller than he looked and tended to lick chocolate
from his fingers in a lascivious manner.”

He tried his wife’s patience, it is true,
and lived alone through the marriage, kept
his own counsel. With such petty symbols as
weather, he kept his own counsel.

A butterfly like weather; the climate like
laughter, the movement of small air. Clouds, too,
have names. Clouds leave home to find themselves.
Good money after bad, the fathers say, and close   

the door called Nature against their coming back.
The funny little ways children have of making
the world the color they always wanted. Sunset.
Birds. The mathematics of memory begin

to swirl like cookie dough, like chocolate with egg
and sugar and vanilla and butter. A bowl to lick,
dangerous with delight, as ultraviolet. Home again!
begs the mother and soon the sorry child walks

that long allée as rain begins to pour.   Past   
such petty symbols the boy returns through architecture,   
a silly gauntlet: the butterfly, the mother, the fit
signatures of loveliness. His parents at the door,

the little cottage in the woods, Hansel home again
at last, the shining path. A little like a dream.
Ours is not a simple age, and things are what they seem
happily ever after in the malicious tiny rain.

Bin Ramke, "The Center for Atmospheric Research" from Massacre of Innocents. Copyright © 1995 by Bin Ramke.  Reprinted by permission of University of Iowa Press.

Source: Massacre of the Innocents: Poems by Bin Ramke (University of Iowa Press, 1995)

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Poet Bin Ramke b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Parenthood, Relationships, Men & Women, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Weather, Arts & Sciences, Sciences

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Bin  Ramke

Biography

Bin Ramke was born in south Texas, spent time in Louisiana when he was young, and attended the University of Louisiana. Once a student of mathematics, Ramke studied literature as an undergraduate and earned a Ph.D. from Ohio University. Ramke combines these typically disparate interests to inform his poetry. Of Tendril, Ramke’s 2007 collection, John Ashbery wrote, “Bin Ramke’s poetry presents itself as the product of curious . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Parenthood, Relationships, Men & Women, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Weather, Arts & Sciences, Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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