American Letters: National Science Foundation Poem

By Hannah Rogers

Dear National Science Foundation,

You were everything I ever wanted

when I was finishing my Ph.D. and I

have no idea why I didn’t pursue you further.

I liked the way you asked me how I liked

my research. You even asked about the percent

of the checks for my apparatus versus travel

and what went to my father University—

the modern dowry— still sexy in a vintage lingerie

sort of way, even if it was just about buying off my

ideas, preventing me from becoming a private

sector girl. I know you still have paperwork for me,

and it helps to know that I could always come back—

that you’d always come back—  for another look

at my details,  especially if Congress finally does that

comprehensive audit they are always talking about.

This poem is from a manuscript American Letters, which I am working on while in residency at Djerassi SDM. These lyric epistles inquiry about the relationship between the personal and the bureaucratic, between our ideals, hopes, loves, and worries about America and the consequences of dealing with its institutions.

Hannah Star Rogers grew up in rural Alabama and received her Ph.D. at Cornell University. She teaches at Columbia University and the University of Virginia. Her poems and reviews have appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Leonardo, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Carolina Quarterly. She has received the both the Everglades and Acadia National Park Service writing residencies and the ArtHub International Artist Residency in Kingman, AZ.