about the author

Shanny Jean Maney is a performance poet and teacher. She is a glasses-wearing monchichi who has a sweet tooth and two puppidogs. With poet pal Robbie Q. Telfer, she co-founded The Encyclopedia Show, a radical literary reading/spectacular which now runs in venues all across the globe. She and Telfer continue to curate the original show in Chicago. Shanny’s first book of poetry, I Love Science! is due out from the fabulous Write Bloody Publishing in Spring of 2012. You can make room on your bookshelf for it now. Go to shannyjeanmaney.com and jump into her world.

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I Love Science

Shanny Jean Maney

I. I Love Science, I Love Science

In 1935
When Kodak invented Kodachrome slide film
It was so photographers could capture things the way they are
In full color

To develop the film,
They used a chemical compound
Phenidone, C9H10N2O
A slurry of
Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen
Poured onto a picture
To bring it to life

In July of 2010
Kodak gave its last roll of Kodachrome film
to a famous photographer
It marked the end of an era
in brilliant hues of red and orange
He took that roll of film to the only place in America that still develops it.
One little shop in Kansas still pours a chemical compound of
Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen
To breathe life into photographs.

The same week
I read the story about the last roll of Kodachrome film
That appeared in my inbox in an email from my aunt

That bombshell
Captured on Kodak Kodachrome slide film
Is my grandmother
And that cute one on the right
Is my mom

Barbara Jean begat Martha Jean and Martha Jean begat me.
And I’m Shanny Jean.

II. I love science I love science I love science I love science

My mom does not talk about her mom
Here is her family around 1962, captured on Kodak Kodachrome slide film.

Clockwise: Richard, Barbara, Linda, Martha, Bill.

Soon after this, Richard leaves for Kansas City. Leave leaves. Gets a good job. Divorces his wife. Buys a Mister Coffee coffeemaker. Marries my grandma Yvonne (not pictured for obvious reasons).

Barbara also remarries, sort of. She starts seeing a man named Cheap Gin, who’s a bottom shelfswill and not actually a man. And he changes her. Things get terrible. Linda turns seventeen and moves to California. Bill moves back and forth from Kansas City. And Martha stays. Through all of it, she stays.

Before Martha graduates high school, Barbara gets cancer and dies. Just like that. Marthablames Richard. Martha blames Barbara. Martha never speaks of Barbara again. Not really.

Daughters understand more than anyone their mothers’ insecurities.
It’s why Martha stayed with Barbara.
And it’s why I don’t ask questions.
Chemical compounds like phenidone don’t choose the properties of their
      parent elements that
develop in them
So too it is with us
I don’t get a say in what Barbara genes and Martha genes will develop into
      Shanny genes
They just develop.

III. I love science. I love science. I love science. I love science.

On July 21 2010,
On Kodak Kodachrome slide film
Developed with the chemical compound phenidone
I saw a picture of Barbara Jean Dalton Nelson for the first time in my life.
And in my twenty eight and a half years of living
It somehow never occurred to me
That she would look like me
That we would have had similar composition
That seeing my mother’s eyes on the face of her mother would someday
      make me cry
It never occurred to me that the pictures my mom had locked in a box
The thing she couldn’t bear to look at
Were pictures of times that were happy.
The proof of that fleeting joy.
Things as they were.
In color.

Are not chemical compounds
But we have a chemical composition
Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen
Are poured over our paper thin skeletons
To link us to each other
To make us capable of memory
To make us come to life

I love science. I love science. I love science. I love science.

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