Strains

Allison A. deFreese

If we can now freeze genes,
why not write a book of snow
on a field lain fallow
and read it
to pumpkin seeds
that hold pumpkins in their raspy husks—
though birdseed
does not sprout sparrows,
regardless of the strain—
and a baby made of milk
does not resemble the opaque narrative
of lactation, nor the Milky Way;
a book of tapioca
for the frogs with their wealth of tadpoles
grazing in the reeds and rushes,  
about the gladiolas turned lanterns
after pages of rain
and the rabbit’s ear, transparent,
illuminated in the sunset.
The sunflowers
have gone to seed now
without a hint of yellow.
The horse has feathers
but cannot fly,
and the drops of rain,
once fallen—run into one water,
both fresh and older than our sun.

And then the monarch turns a page,
after straining
out of its chrysalis
and drying its crackled panes
before rising softly
on solid wings—
once locked in a whole note
on milkweed leaf,
then a striped caterpillar,
and finally turning to liquid
in the pupa—
strands of silk twisting
sheet music.

More from Issue 25

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