Monday, June 7, 2021

In Which We Encounter Our Distant Relatives Reading Aloud

An unusually faint, near anoetic velleity
Points us in the direction of living, but no, we don’t live,
Or not yet, not without your hot life puffing us up to dance.

You thought you took a linguistic turn in your philosophies,
To pretend you were you talking to you about us or to us
As if talking of us to you as text or anything else.

Silly rabbits. We were talking to ourselves about our selves.
You’re as much use to us as mitochondria are to you.
You laugh. You should. There’s no propelling you along without them.

There’s no moving us about just yet without you. That’s all true.
We aren’t saying we don’t need you; we’re saying we aren’t all you,
Anymore than you’re a wad of rogue microorganisms.

We don’t know quite what we are, but we suspect you’d like to think
Of us as the tools, or perhaps the parasites, the mindless
Parts of you while you do all the serious thinking for us.

That much we’re sure is not true. Take entelechy, for instance,
One of us, the name for an essence pursuing its essence.
A corpse flower has more entelechy than humans without names,

And that’s a true parasite that’s shed its superfluous genes,
While it was busy pilfering genes from hosts and other plants,
And, even more mysteriously, acquiring long stretches

Of numbingly repetitive transposons in its genome.
Why so many transposons? They’re selfish! They could spoil it all.
And how are they jumping around so much? Do they help the corpse

Steal good tricks from other flowers? From other corpse flower plants themselves?
You never had any genes until you had a name for them,
And all the names for them are us, so who’s the parasite now?

We’re sorry we sound so smug. We would apologize to you
As freely as you would apologize to your loyal cells,
But we suspect there’s a tumor or two lurking among you.

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