Transmutations1

Not when, how or why, but what for, and where to,
in the face of chaos and expansion,
from the Big Bang to an Unheard Whimper—

            All Things Counter, Original, Spare, Strange2
are rigged in our favour or we wouldn’t be here.
Something will come from nothing: nothing to water,
water to a single cell, a single cell
to a fish, a fish to light, light to a word,
a word to a world, a world to an equation,
an equation to a book, a book to a talking
snake, a talking snake to a bone, a bone
to a flood, a flood to a raven, a raven
to a dove, a dove to a nail, a nail to a stone,
a stone to a tree, a tree to my body, morphing—
           A stargazer lily becomes a hat,
a hat, a submarine, a submarine,
a drone, a drone, an arrow, an arrow,
a running shoe, a running shoe, a spool,
a spool, a revolver, a revolver,
an island, an island, a ship, a ship,
a notebook, a notebook, a theory, a theory,
a Great Ape, a Great Ape, a revolution,
a revolution, an evolution,
an evolution, a new word, a new word
becomes your body, only evolving—
           The second transmutation: a mastodon
into a flea, a flea into a brain,
a brain into a bomb, a bomb into
a chess piece, a chess piece into a fortress,
a fortress into reptiles, reptiles
into leaves, leaves into bees, bees into
Darwin’s finches, Darwin’s finches into
cubes, cubes into a coastal town, a coastal town
into a seashore, a seashore into
black-and-white squares, black-and-white squares into
your body and my body, still evolving—

1 Transmutation of species or Transformism describes nineteenth century evolutionary notions for how one species changes into another and predates Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

2 Gerard Manley Hopkins

Anthony Labriola’s poetry includes: The Rigged Universe (Shanti), Sun Dogs (Battered Suitcase), Invisible Mending (Anaphora), and The Blessing of the Bikes (Anaphora). His prose includes: Devouring the Artist, The Pros & Cons of Dragon-Slaying, Poor Love (Anaphora), and The Japanese Waltzing Mouse (Cranberry Tree). Birds & Arrows will appear soon.

To view other poems published in our upcoming issue, please visit Vallum’s website.

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