Specialize

 

My dream began with the animals marching OFF

Noah's ark, the giraffe early on of course.

There is always a giraffe. Then the housefly.

The giraffe eats leaves on tall trees, the long neck --

Special, of course, and long legs.

The fly eats shit, a supremely useful service.

 

Then they blended into the pages of a giant book,

With me being small, like the animals,

But reading it the giant book.

And what I was reading was the story of each animal,

Its brief "repertoire" of fixed, repeated behavior.

The lion ate meat, the cattle ate grass,

The fish ate fish, and the wolves ate cattle.

 

Each had a role in a niche,

A nut, a root, a peach.

They all had a job,

Hired by an invisible employer.

 

Then I came to the dogs.

They broke the mold with flexibility:

Sled dog, watch dog, fire rescue dog,

Avalanche rescue dog, fighting dog.

Guide dog, even therapy dog.

That's the ticket.

A dog can learn something new

quite different from most of the tide of

animal-weed striding across the pages of the ark/book.

 

And then us.

Catalogued by an enormous

repertoire that runs from gazing at flowers

to trapping and butchering mastodon.

One washes dishes, the other cooks, the other

Is an astronaut that will visit another planet

And announce to the universe "We are from Earth.
We love peace and freedom --- millions

We have killed are our reliable witnesses."

 

We write poetry and then essays about poetry

And poetry about essays and how our

Ant-like behavior conceals a subtle but

Important pattern of choice without cause.

We each do our part, and it looks like

A caste system but actually we each choose

Our role, subject to reason of course,

And a method of selection from a terse

Collection of theories called "self-government."

 

John S. Medeiros, July 2019

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