February : Biology (Part One)

Before the Snottor drops his monthly pearl on you, I thought I’d sneak in another little project.

The Story: I recently took Biology from a truly fabulous teacher. To be perfectly honest, I was really expecting the worst from it, but was thankfully quite pleasantly surprised.

Like most things I love, words sprang forth inspired by what I was learning (thus the poems, which I hope can be forgiven). I also was quite fascinated by the Microscopy week in lab—our main object of observation were individuals from the kingdom Protista (thus the painting). However, you will not get to meet them yet. That is for part two.

Here are the poems:

Yeast Cells

The window was a circle unto where time had stopped.

It was a world without breath and yet she breathed while she gazed, down, down.

Have you ever seen a gray so perfect and I know you haven’t, grayer than eyes or the sky can ever be.

More perfect than air, than breathing, than going in and out.

Too much for anything than its own stillness.


The angels are silent. Breaking off in kisses so slow. Buds of starlight, moonlight.

She could only look for a moment.


We are cells, we are alive it is what we do.

But why? Why do you do it? Why do you want so ever-so-desperately to be alive?

We are cells, we are alive, it is what we do.

What happens when you die?

We are alive.

But what happens? Would it not be comforting to know?

We are busy.

I heard there are fungi that are alive to eat the dead and turn them into new life.

Eat? We don’t want to be eaten.

I only heard it, perhaps it isn’t true.

New life? We are alive now and this is what we want.

But why do you want it so much? Why do you breathe?

Corps of Discovery

How does the water hold you up, Lewis and Clark?

How do bonds drawn with a broken line hold?

Is it magic?

Are you magic?

I can’t tell you what the real Lewis and Clark would have said. It was only Amy.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her those intrepid explorers went as much by land as by sea.

Their two pairs of skinny little-kid legs were in the pool over the side of floaties crammed with precious gear in plastic yellows, reds, blues.

It’s not our pool, of course. We don’t have that kind of money.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her Merriweather wasn’t a girl’s name either.

Why not Sacagawea? You could be her?

Clark raised his eyebrows at me.

Clark shoots himself in the end, I think. Like Hemingway. Hemingway liked the sea.

How do bonds drawn with broken lines hold you up?

Sacagawea is on a golden coin, I said. Lewis and Clark never got that.

What use have I for gold?

I have no use for gold.

It was so poetic that I had to let her off. It was getting dark and Lewis and Clark were making a soggy, submerged dinner by a broken plastic fire that wouldn’t light.

The lights in the pool cast shadows through the water and the bonds drawn with a broken line clung about their legs.

I don’t ever put my limbs in the water. I don’t ever let the dotted lines clasp around me.

They flipped over and I think it was on purpose.

His Protégé

Life should be all laid out, like chemistry (of course it isn’t).

Tamlin had a valence

Of seven, which made things very

straight-forward—yes, match—no

match—yes—aha, that apple

with a valence of exactly one

will solve this perfectly.

He didn’t mind dogs or fish because of their full electron shells.

He walked on the other side of the street from old ladies and men with beards.

It is a very hard thing not to

Be able to be Mendeleev. It is a very hard thing that those things can only be found out for the first time once.

Tamlin did a lot of sudoku. It had almost as favorable a

Subatomic particle count as the apple—but he didn’t want to be another

Steve Jobs, of course not. Cancer

And Tamlin were on opposite sides of

The table. Newton was

better, although he didn’t think he

Reacted well with head injuries either.

There was a girl at his

School who changed her name to

Xenon. Aha. Of course. The

Element that doesn’t react to anything else.

Tamlin understood. Of course he did.

The girl had either caught on to

His secret to organizing life

Or was just really smart.

Tamlin walked backwards counting

The ionically bonded,

Black-and-white checkered

Floor tiles. His hair was red as iron and

His glasses-frames silver as mercury.


Have you ever dreaded something that turned out to be not so bad?


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