Monday, April 8, 2024

Poem of the Weirdly Weak

No one that you know of carries
Your identical mutation,
Although surely someone must have.

Estimates of mutation rates
And of global population
Together would put, at random,

Maybe half a dozen living
People with a point mutation
At that same location. Given

Negative selection pressure
For such a deleterious
Variation, random seems right,

And of course, the substitutions
Of that nucleotide wouldn’t
Likely all be identical.

So, here you are, in the decades
Since your father died, possibly,
Perhaps probably, the only

Possessor of this tiny quirk,
This one base-pair alteration,
Changing one amino acid

In the chain of one long protein,
Among your thousands of proteins,
The bricks of your bones turned to glass.

You’re like some thought experiment,
In how different one life could be
With only a minimum twist.

You’re everything ordinary
A human can be—desirous,
Affable, humorous, feckless,

Greedy, conniving, generous,
Hypocritical, hard-working,
Corner-cutting, conscientious,

An all-in-all typical mess,
With minor characteristics
Producing your particulars,

Similar to anyone else,
Typical given your priors,
Maybe, tangled variables

That mostly add up to human,
Largely unsurprising human,
Impossible to correlate

Precisely with that mutation
Since there is no, and will be no,
Set of lives for comparison.

Well. Unique but ordinary,
How ordinarily unique.
And yet you pour twelve thousand poems.
And yet your bones are weirdly weak.

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