Poetry of the moment: Lady Chemist, 1873

Someone actually did tell me this story about MIT. And Ellen Swallow really was the first woman to attend MIT, starting in 1871.

Lady Chemist, 1873

The barman said the first year with girls at tech was cold
and with everyone wrapped up in down
and the chicks unshaved you could hardly tell.

He’d got the date wrong by a hundred years.

Ellen Swallow, chemist, class of seventy three,
wore a dress and plaited hair to labs and lectures,
cleaned and sewed between;
on graduation served the board of health,
as mistress of untainted water,
preventer of industrial fires.

A century on the dorms were mixed
and we’d forgot how long it took,
how slow a legacy was built, how quickly past.

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