Published on Academy of American Poets (


after Marie Howe

              in the wordless beginning

iguana & myrrh

magma & reef          ghost moth

& the cordyceps tickling its nerves

& cedar & archipelago & anemone

dodo bird & cardinal waiting for its red

ocean salt & crude oil         now black

muck now most naïve fumbling plankton

every egg clutched in the copycat soft

of me unwomaned unraced

unsexed          as the ecstatic prokaryote

that would rage my uncle’s blood

or the bacterium that will widow

your eldest daughter’s eldest son

my uncle, her son           our mammoth sun

& her uncountable siblings         & dust mite & peat

apatosaurus & nile river

& maple green & nude & chill-blushed &

yeasty keratined bug-gutted i & you

spleen & femur seven-year refreshed

seven-year shedding & taking & being this dust

& my children & your children

& their children & the children

of the black bears & gladiolus & pink florida grapefruit

here not allied but the same        perpetual breath

held fast to each other as each other’s own skin

cold-dormant & rotting & birthing & being born

in the olympus           of the smallest

possible once before once


Copyright © 2020 by Marissa Davis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Singularity’ was inspired by the poem of the same name by Marie Howe, itself inspired by the theory of singularity, which posits that before the Big Bang, all matter existed within one small, incredibly dense ball of energy. Conceptually, it was amazing to me—that every piece of matter that would become not only you and I, but each of our ancestors and each of our descendants; and every creature long extinct and every one not yet existing; every wondrous and every awful and every hideous and every radiant thing—that the components of its being would have existed first, alongside every other, in this speck of dust. Here, the scientific meets the spiritual; becomes it, even—we’re given the chance to frame any living thing (any existing thing, really) as our brethren, that with which we once laid together in an ancient, cosmic womb.”
Marissa Davis


Marissa Davis

Marissa Davis grew up in Paducah, Kentucky, and is the author of My Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak (Jai-Alai Books, 2020). An MFA student at New York University, Davis lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Date Published: 2020-07-01

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