Sulfur poem by Janet Kuypers

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Sulfur

Janet Kuypers

from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series

When I’ve always thought of Sulfur,
I thought of it’s caustic smell,
or the fact that it’s mixed with things
so its used to bleach paper,
or as a fixing agent
when making photography prints.
It’s been used for vulcanizing rubber,
and it has been used as a fertilizer;
I know they use it in compounds
to make anti-inflammatory drugs, too.
(I only know this because
I’ve had an allergic reaction
to taking sulfa drugs, giving me
a rash all over my body.)
But I know it’s needed for life
by many small organisms (and it’s
even needed for keeping human
skin and hair healthy).

Wait… So if us humans need it,
why am I allergic to it? I mean,
my hair’s not brittle, and my skin’s
not falling off… I really hope
that it’s just a matter of me having
just enough of this stuff, because
too much can be bad for me…

And the thing is, I had no idea
that Sulfur was also mentioned
in the Torah and in the Bible…
Historically it was even used
to make the best gunpowder,
and it was commonly used
in Ancient Greece, China and Egypt.

So I guess it makes sense
that if we have combined Sulfur
(though I really prefer to spell it
in Latin with a “ph” instead…)
with so many other things
for our needs in life right now,
that it would have been used
throughout history so much
that this element finds it’s way
into religious books
throughout history too…