Sunday, April 17, 2005


- I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

- Yes, sir.

- Are you listening?

- Yes, I am.

- Plastics.

- Just how do you mean that, sir?

[Dialogue between Mr. McGuire and Benjamin Braddock, The Graduate (1967)]

Poem in Praise of a Particular Polymer

Let us speak of the wonderful automobile—
That fabulous driving machine,
Made of rubber and glass (and let’s not forget steel)
And fine polypropylene.

We shall talk of the car seats protecting our kids
As we motor past fields so green,
And shiny containers with living-hinge lids—
It’s all polypropylene.

We will buy a dishwasher—yes, that’s what we’ll do,
Because we want dishes so clean.
It’ll last twenty years (give or take one or two)
Thanks to our polypropylene.

Don’t forget the fantastic returnable bin
Packed with produce: the lowly string bean
And the kumquat. To throw boxes out is a sin,
But we keep polypropylene.

And let’s go get some yogurt, both fruited and plain,
Low in calories: helps us stay lean.
It’s protected (so it will not give us ptomaine)
By food-grade polypropylene.

The stuff’s all around us! From birth until death,
Its impact on our lives is seen.
So please mold my coffin (when I draw no more breath)
Of long-lived polypropylene.

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