Barium poem by Janet Kuypers


by Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

As Christmas approaches,
I get my glass ornaments out
for decorating the tree,
and it reminds me
of how the element Barium
is used in glass making
to improve the luster,
which is perfect for these ornaments.

Because I always thought
that Barium was used
to coat fluorescent lamps,
or add to fireworks
to make them a vibrant green
(not unlike a Christmas tree),
or even as a contrast agent
when taking X-rays,
and yeah, Barium compounds
can even halt the leaking
of X-rays from CRT TV sets…

A mineral containing Barium
is also a rare blue
fluorescent gemstone,
that‚s even the official
state gem of California.

So I guess it does make sense
that Barium could also improve
the luster of glassware…

But when I looked for
more information on Barium,
that‚s when I read
in the New York Daily News
and the Daily Mail
that a Tennessee woman
was actually being poisoned
by her doctor husband
with Barium. This woman,
living on Lookout Mountain,
was suffering from a mysterious
illness for months, until
she found out
that her physician husband
had been poisoning her
for five months by putting
Barium in her morning coffee.

Wow, so I suppose having a little
Barium in your system
once or twice in your life
for an X-ray won‚t due you in…
The element Barium can
add luster to glassware, or
give an intense green in fireworks,
coat fluorescent lamps, or stop
X-rays from coming to you
through your TV screen —
the element Barium can
even help doctors see better
in X-rays to help someone‚s life.
But don‚t put it in your morning
coffee every day,
because if you give someone
too much of what otherwise
seems like a good thing,
it can also be what kills you…