Thursday, February 4, 2016

Brain Coral

Before it can be showtime
I have to get you into the steel frame
Expertly molded around your shape -
Delicate calcium carbonate

Inside, the prongs are lined with felt
To smooth the cradled surface of your weight
Tiny screws slide into place and
I tighten them slowly
Careful not to cause a break

Little bits of your surface
Rest like snowflakes inside the wooden crate
That goes from place to place
Traveling between continents
My job, unglamorous
To catalog, inspect, repair, if possible
The inevitable toll
Damage unavoidable in a cargo hold

You were not meant to fly but
To live in still ocean silence
Among the brackish algae
Little creatures sprouting from your pores
A mockery to put you on display -
A benefit to science
Paradoxical interplay

In San Diego I find larvae in your holes
Under the magnifier's scrutiny
I rush you to a freezer
To kill the invaders
To protect the other bones and skins
From life reconfigured inside their shells

I am a zookeeper of the dead
A wrangler of bones and stones
Tomorrow you'll be out in the open, marveled at
For all to see

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cell Division

She points a stick at the blackboard.
It must have taken some time with
The colored chalk
To get it just right -
The structure of a cell,
The orange mitochondria floating
In a baby blue nucleus
In a bath of matter, a
Pool of programmed instructions:
     Make a brain, a heart
     Make me walk and talk
     Make us love

Hard to believe at the time, but
I listened, thinking
     Why does this matter?
     Why does this matter when
     Trees are dying
     Animals are starving
Why does a cell and a textbook matter at all?

These things all connect.

It took me years but I get it -
So many different kinds of cells
     The tangled nerve cells
     The rounded egg cells
     The long, narrow plant cells sucking chlorophyll -
It's all the same for each
Bark, skin, fur
I see it now, and it clicks, but
Not so viscerally as a finger
With its many types of cells,
But a vast plain and rocks to climb

I can stand up and get there, to the top of the mountain
I can get down to the dust,
There is a nucleus there, in the stone
Once born from a tiny shard of shell
A mollusk, perhaps, an ammonite -
Intelligent life, shadow of a cell.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Waking Up

I refuse to believe my
Most fertile time is behind me
The time of un-tethered words and
Ripe images

I refuse to believe
The apple tree has died and
Taken me down to the dry dust
The summer canyons
Exhaling their last vapors

I know there is more -
Another seed, another Spring
Another phase of creative generation
To blossom the possibility of
Awakened imagination.