He published at fifty,
decades and oceans after
that youthful scramble over rocks,
with his careful store of
cold feathered bodies in annotated boxes,
pressed petals and seed pods stacked between leaves.
After swaying nights in that ship’s cabin
tossed by torrential thoughts,
his scratching pen shaped on the page
that first thought.
Firmly back on land,
mild Kent evenings of yellow light
and family times,
did not stop his mind
swaying like his sea legs.
He ambled along metaphysical paths
laid down highways of concrete thought
reasoned their cause
changed forever our answer.
Before the hand of God was swept away
no one questioned His plan
but embraced the serenity of certainty;
now contained in reason’s coils
the small part he grasped
the sample he chose
from the vastness of everything
cannot be freed again.
He conjured a theory that still cracks tarmac as sure as summer heat, and, buried like an IED in a curve of the road, puts speeding fundamental wheels into a spin, draws into the open the ringing notes of AK47 repetition, cuts down the ranks of
‘Think as I think or else...’
Still, his thought is with us:
We believe with the same fundamental fervour
of those he defeated, in the survival
of the fittest thought.
But this solid reason of flesh and bones
(after all, genetics is assured)
is sea mist cut by The Beagle’s bow
feathers swept up to invisibility on a thermal
dusty imprints of ancient leaves,
it shimmers when I ask why I
love sunlight on a speck, floating in this room,
crave grass-shadows in a Spring breeze,
seek certainty in chaotic words?
My grandfather was a biologist, and my grandmother was a librarian. With this genetic combination, it is perhaps unsurprising that I wound up as a plant systematist and taxonomist. Put simply, systematics is the science which aims to discover, classify,…
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