Poem—"Evolutionary Thoughts"

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Andrena Zawinski


About This Work


After a lively discussion with my son, who proposed the idea that one day we may be arguing for rights of robots considering so many people are becoming so bionic with advancements in health care, I began thinking about my first encounters with basic scientific thinking when I was in a poor high school that rarely got new books—one of which was a science text that included a chapter on evolution. I thought it interesting to contemplate the effect of new knowledge in the context of everyday living and the light it can shine on ordinary things. The narrative free verse poetic form allowed a freewheeling of reflection on the subject and what seemed a natural course to follow to modern day robotics in the face of continued arguments by creationists regarding evolution and the irony that so many basic human rights have yet to be won.



Evolutionary Thoughts


"I feel like a child who while playing by the seashore has found a few bright colored shells...while the whole vast ocean of truth stretches out almost untouched and unruflled before my eager fingers." 

—Sir Isaac Newton


When the biology teacher broke out the new textbooks
in our eleventh grade classroom, my thoughts ran rife
across its pages, almost delirious with the notion
I may not have been generated from a mere rib bone
of a man made in an invisible almighty god’s image.

Fresh vocabulary poked around in my mouth:
chromosomal, double helix, empirical observation.
Then suddenly, even a local scandal made some sense,
how the new parish priest could run off to Montreal
with the Mother of Sorrow’s poor box alms
and our school’s pretty valedictorian.

I even found myself musing at my own grandmother’s
toothless face, monkey­-like, shriveled in her old age
on her death bed, all now just part of the scheme of things,
new words on my tongue: heredity, variation, natural
selection, everything hooked on evolutionary thoughts.

Dizzy on a slant of dust­flecked light cutting across
the classroom desk in Pittsburgh, with the flip of each
slick text book page, creationism went on trial and lost,
and although the case was not closed, enough of that jury
was in for me—­­banished was my god of butterfly wings
and banished was my god of blazing penance.

But some things are short-­lived­­—creationists
have belted intelligent design back into the courtroom,
trying Darwin again in Kansas, Ohio, Georgia,
as grad students in Carnegie Mellon think tanks
play air hockey with humanoid robots, debating
with a fury, their rights beyond the laboratory doors.



Andrena Zawinski lives in Alameda, CA but was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Zawinski is a teacher of writing and is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine dot com. Her full collection of poetry, Something About from Blue Light Press in San Francisco, received a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award. Her Traveling in Reflected Light from Pig Iron Press in Youngstown, OH won a Kenneth Patchen competition in poetry. She has also authored four chapbooks and compiled and edited the anthology Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down from the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon she founded and runs. Her work appears widely online and in print.


© 2013 Andrena Zawinski, used by permission

Technoculture Volume 3 (2013)