An Approximation, by Rhode Island scientist and poet Carolyn Decker, is an ode to the interconnectedness of everything and a clarion call for wisdom in a world of desires. Rife with spiritual and natural imagery, An Approximation concludes with the peaceful mantra that can’t help but satisfy the reader–ending the poem with meditative quietude, or perhaps the long-sought-for wisdom. Carolyn told The Dewdrop, “‘An Approximation’ was written during the two years I spent studying where hatchling diamondback terrapins, a rare turtle, spend the winter. While getting to know these animals and their habitats as both scientist and poet, I frequently wondered about my relationship with that place, the wildlife, and myself.”
Hauling all my gear, I feel like an approximation of Chenrezig,
keeping track today of two hundred sixty limbs, sixty-five heads,
not quite enough to rival the bodhisattvas,
but an extension greater than I am used to.
Wisdom, I will need you as the marsh needs the terrapin.
so clumsy: my wandering, burdened with desire
to know, if not control, my frustrations, my delights—
the air is heavy with shifting clouds, that even wilder terrain.
Om a ra pa tsa na dhi
Om mani padme hum.
Carolyn Decker (she/her) is a poet, essayist, and environmental scientist. She studied biological and environmental sciences at Wheaton College and the University of Rhode Island, and was a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. She is particularly interested in wetlands and wildlife, as well as the relationships between people and wild places. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island. Her writing has been published by the Marble Collection, Rushlight, plain china, From Whispers to Roars, The Menteur, Science Sonnets, the Rhode Island Naturalist, The Wildlife Society, and the Lindenwood Review.