Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ode to Vocal Cords

The ritual is the same every day:
parting tissues 
like a hunter parting reeds,
taking aim
and, if nature favors,
the surety and satisfaction of hitting one's mark.

Yet no two rituals are the same;
the mark can be elusive, 
or for all intents and purposes

I see it now: a frontier in time and space;
a narrow gate;
doorway between life and death,
between speech (or song) and silence;
the borders between human and other,
between "evolved" and "creature,"
incarnate in its vertical rims.

Every day I gaze upon
these Pillars of Hercules,
a cipher of our humanity,
evidence of our forward step:
the larynx low, fixed in descent
from its primal place 
in infancy and antiquity,
genetic words made flesh 
as flesh that - miracle of miracles -
makes words.

Words.  More than vowels,
howls, and primeval cries.
A voice - a voice is not enough,
nor a larynx far descended;
Cervus elaphus has that, and even

Homo sapiens has found
that finely crafted, interwoven
movements, stops, and sounds
can place into our worldly roil
the measured contents of our thoughts.
A larynx powered by the mind:
portal to poetry, language, and song.

The hunt continues:
My daily ritual enacts 
an ancient yearning to understand
who we are, what gives us life,
and in what hidden places
our secrets can be found.
And so I snap my blade into place
and begin again.

This attempt at a poem was written in response to an invitation from Moneduloides to "step outside of the box" of what we usually write and submit a post for the December 30 edition of Grand Rounds, whose theme is "at the interface of evolution and medicine," in honor of the upcoming bicentenary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.  Please check out this fascinating latest edition of Grand Rounds culled by brilliant blogger Moneduloides.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

'doorway between life and death'
that's so true!
I've never been in the terrifying situation where you can't see anything and the 'not seeing' costs a life...
I really hope that for me it will continue to be the doorway for life (only)! and if not, that I can live with myself when it happens.
and so we'll continue to snap our blades! ...never knowing what lies ahead! but hoping for the best. always.