Base Pairs in Flight

No garden if we fall.

It’s DNA: hate, sin – us all it sires.

I wonder if all after fall.

All afired, low on hope, else writs all in us war1,

Eve sang–

I lamb benign

I wolf no wolf’s eyes raw


War did I call?

Is  lam2 inane?

Volcano erupts a past pure.

On a cloven animal’s ill acid I draw.

Wars, eyes flow on, flowing in ebb

Malign as Eve.

Raw sun –

Ill astir, we sleep.

Oh! Now older I fall all afret, fall afired.

No wiser, I still

A sun, I set…

Ah, and still a few, fine, drag on.


Notes and comments

In writing this poem I realized that structurally a palindrome is like DNA, having two complementary strands coiling around each other in opposite directions, with each letter or word pairing corresponding to the base pairs in DNA.

The theme of the poem is human nature: can we transcend our genetic heritage or are hate, sin and war written into our DNA? The image emerged of Adam and Eve – the base pair – in flight, in the desert, lamenting their lost paradise (I imagine Adam as the voice of the poem and of humanity). The external struggle to ‘drag on’ towards a promised land mirrors the internal struggle to escape the coiled snakes of DNA inside us all.

1. Else writs all in us war: A slightly awkward phrase. The idea is that the ‘writs’ are our genes and the rules of human behaviour encoded by them, which ultimately create conflict within and between people.

2. Lam: Escape, flight from the law.

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