Ode to Wikipedia
Acacia trees. A truth: I don’t know what I did
Bubonic plague. before Wikipedia existed. I suppose I
Catacombs. crawled through libraries and
Deep-sea gigantism. dictionaries and research books and
Erhu. encyclopedias and reference materials
Fiddlehead fern. fishing for information, for facts, for any
Goblin shark. gulp of information I could get, about anything,
H. H. Holmes. hoarding knowledge as if it was the hidden
Indigo. illumination of a flashlight under the sheets, a
Jewel wasp. jubilant song from the throat of a thrush, a
Kellogg’s Cornflakes. key to some enormous locked
Laika. library just waiting for the door to open, for
Moirae. me. But now I can type and click and scroll and
Nonbinary gender. never run out of pages, always find another thing to
Ophidura. open, another life to thread through, another
Panamanian golden frog. puzzle to unlock. And it’s limitless, one
Queen Kristina. quintessential encyclopedia, a compendium, a
Rho. resource for anything and everything. It’s
Snapdragon. stunning: I am left dazed as if slapped by the tail of a
Thanatology. thresher shark, tumbled as if by tornado. I can spend hours
Unicorn tapestries. unraveling my own twisted travels; I can only re-
Velociraptor. verse and revisit so many times. I’m always on to the next
Whaling (history of). wisp of knowledge. I rejoice in how quickly results, like
Xenolith. xebecs, sail across my screen. I can spend hours spiraling.
Yuri Gagarin. Yesterday’s search history is the start of a new journey: the
Zero gravity. Zvečan Fortress, the scarab beetle, the endless possibilities.
This poem was written for an abecedarian challenge; having already written 26 science fiction abecedarians for a chapbook, I had to find something creative to do with yet another one. Eventually, it occurred to me that I’d been wanting to write an ode to Wikipedia for a while, given how much I love and use it as a reference resource for my poetry, and that the abecedarian would be a perfect form for it due to the encyclopedic nature of the site. Then I decided to make it a double abecedarian that incorporated many of my actual Wikipedia searches. During the writing of this poem, I deeply regretted that Wikipedia does not store one’s search history.
Gretchen Rockwell is a queer poet currently living in Scotland; xer most recent publications include perhappened mag, Whale Road Review, Emerge Lit Journal, and Poet Lore, as well as the micro chap- books love songs for godzilla (Kissing Dynamite) and Thanatology (Ghost City Press). Xe enjoys writing poetry about gender, science, history, space, and unusual connections.