A life commandeered

It was made for you.

A connection before you were

ever born.

When it feels out, into the dark, you’ll be there

and you’ll draw it in.


Surrounded by your kin

a familiar grasp

But its none of them.

You are beset.


Just a pinch and a push

and its done.

An itch and tingle and you’ve become more

than you’ve ever been,

an extra length

of soul incised and tied.

It fit, in a blink, and it settled into you.

Like the last lie you’d ever tell yourself.


Divided, you persist as you can.

The shame you feel

when you see it in your progeny.

A beastly poison in their being.

You know it is a matter of time.


Bracing, you and yours

fall apart.

The thing you kept and passed on,

wrested from you all the mechanisms of life.

You watch as you are dismantled.

And with your last attempt for salvation,

if not for you, then for others,

you rip and raise high

a sign of the anathema.


Artist Statement:

Learning about lysogenic viral cycle was one of those times in biology that I felt there was something poetic going on. The nature of the invasion and destruction of cells from this type of virus made me think about things in human lives that are applicable. Where ideas are impregnated and can have profound influences on how we live. The cycle seems dark and sad to me. But like in the human spirit, the drive of life at all levels can be at times selfless in the face of defeat. I was instantly drawn to the idea of a cell’s MHC showing the on the outside what was going to destroy it from the inside. It seemed to have a greater meaning than its evolutionary utility. Although what is described in the poem is meant more for a bacteriophage, I took some license with what would possibly be more appropriately an endogenous retrovirus in humans.