Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Incognitum

Confronted by recent discoveries
One rummages round for analogies.
In an interview about his new movie,

"Lucy," the director Luc Bresson,
Whose films I've never enjoyed,
Avers that cancer is "dying

Of immortality," thinking perhaps
Of those "immortal cells of Henrietta Lack."
Recently, a comparative gene study

Found that the longer-lived species
Have done a more ruthless job
Of editing out the free-riding fragments

Of ancient retroviral infections,
Thus cracking down on a major source
Of rogue carcinoma behavior.

Somehow, we could put these
Little snippets of news back
Together and set them in motion.

Even longevous humans keep
A lot of retroviral DNA heaped
In the cracks of our gimcrack genes,

And nowadays, lack of other
More pressing threats permits
Attacks from awakened engines within.

Pace Bresson, the scuttling crabs of replication
Are not immortal, however. They are
Undead, windup toys with springs

Still coiled, ready to pop up
In the coffins of our genomes
And go on a rampage until indeed dead.

There's a microscopic story in there
For the kind of black-hearted soul
Who mistrusts stories. Come again?

Faith. Have faith. The beasts will win,
The little interregnum of beliefs
Yield to their gnawing with relief.

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