Sunday, December 28, 2008
Ode to Vocal Cords
The ritual is the same every day:
like a hunter parting reeds,
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 -
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.