Osmium poem by Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

Hearing the word “Osmium” recently
(and not knowing what the word means),
the only thing that popped into my head
was the Osmonds,
Then I had this crazy 1970s flashback
to watching the Donny and Marie Osmond show,
her singing “I’m a Little Bit Country”
and him singing “I’m a Little Bit Rock ‘n Roll”
(and listening to that ‘70s song now,
you’d swear that Donny Osmond
has no Motown in his soul)…
But when I was little, I even had
the Donny and Marie Barbie-styled
dolls and play set, which even had
a stage where they could sing —
they had microphones — and this
is the best part — the Donny and Marie
dolls had holes through their hands
(if only these holes leaked blood, so the
Donny and Marie stigmata was complete)
so microphones could lock into their hands.

I guess Donny and Marie dolls
had the stigmata so they could
have that strong bond
with the microphone,
like their strong Osmond
family bond.

Because I’m sure
a family bond
is harder than anything.

And no, I didn’t know what “Osmium” was,
but Osmium is a blue-gray
to blue-black transition metal,
and as far as elements go,
it’s actually the densest
hard transition metal
in the platinum family,
that actually remains lustrous,
even at higher temperatures.

And you know,
I’ve got a medical bracelet
I have to wear all the time…
If my medical bracelet
was made out of Osmium
it would probably last forever
and look really cool too…

But then again,
because it’s so dense and so hard,
it’s probably too brittle
to shape into a bracelet.
But I’m sure they use Osmium
in applications where durability
and hardness are needed,
like in the constant varying pressure
in fountain pen nibs,
or very repetitive and exacting
electrical contacts.

And the other thing that’s a bummer
about the densest element
in the Periodic Table
is that Osmium is actually
the least abundant element
in the earth’s crust…
So I guess it makes sense
that since it’s only obtained
during copper and nickel mining,
it would probably be used
for such small objects
like fountain pen nibs
and electrical circuitry
when these minute things
need to last.

And yeah, the thing is,
Osmium can also be used
for fingerprint detection,
and it can even stain fatty tissue
for optical and electron microscopy.
So it’s excellent-cool
that Osmium can also be used
on a microscopic level like that
to help us out so much too…

So, maybe if something
as dense and hard as Osmium
is actually quite rare here,
it’s a good thing
we’ve learned to utilize
such small amounts
of this dense element
for so many things
to help us out so much in life.