There’s no law that says
life needs to get more complicated.
In fact, it’s difficult to grow big.
Humanity has always been improbable,
but occurred when two single cells
floated—perhaps they wanted
each other?—into one. Even a host
can learn to love a leech. This is molecular:
One thing cares for another, in a way
it could never care for itself. Everything
you know was born from this sacrifice. Red-
woods stretched, shellfish bristled the floor.
Life, in even the simplest form, has always
been a matter of finding the energy.
Copyright © 2017 by Lizzie Harris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“This is part of a collection of poems that examine the emergence of the Internet as an apocalyptic event: a permanent shift in how we connect with the world around us. This particular poem is a bit of an outlier, in that it obsesses about similar themes of time, relationships, and identity, but uses a more fundamental shift—from simple (single-cell organisms) to complex life—as a backdrop.”
Lizzie Harris is the author of Stop Wanting (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2014).
Date Published: 2017-06-21
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/cellular