In the context of growing interest in the use of science in contemporary poetry, this essay offers a close reading of Joan Retallack's poem “AID/I/SAPPEARANCE” (1998a) as an extended case study of one use of science: the subversion of scientific language. Retallack uses two connected lines of the postmodern critique of science—linguistic slippage and paradigm-dependency—not to subvert or to critique science as an end in itself but to return attention to the human subject, specifically in the context of AIDS, suggesting that the individual becomes lost in the analytical, object-centered epistemology of science. The essay suggests that, in doing so, Retallack offers a defense of the subject on the basis of postmodern theories known for their critique of subjectivity.

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