Wednesday, March 3, 2021


Meaning remains cued by context.
When phenomena puzzle us,

We take our hints from their contexts
Framed in our own experience

And by double-framed devices
Deduce what’s been indicated,

What this phenomenon must mean.
It’s animal; it’s innocent.

Lost in the past generations
Of our monophyletic kind,

Somehow began a new habit
Of making meanings portable,

Extending indications’ reach
Out of immediate contexts,

Perpetuating reference
As stabilized gestures and sounds

Reproducible far from home.
Contexts still mattered, very much,

But like our other portables,
Our sticks, flints, gourds, cloaks, and pouches,

Our straps and baskets, our meanings
Now could be kept in hand, carried

With us, yet more consequences
Of the freeing of our forepaws.

So, we tucked our meanings away
And produced their tools as needed,

Explaining, gesticulating,
Narrating, cursing, defending.

At what point did meanings become
Capable of constellating

Contexts of their own? On their own?
On our own? True organisms

Create boundaries, lipid walls,
Skins, rinds, layers of defenses,

That mark them off from existence
As mere, non-living processes

In a cosmos without edges.
Do we patrol our boundaries?

Have meanings become living things,
Indicating we’re on our own?

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