Monday, January 16, 2017

Vestigial (excerpt of)

One: Earth…accretion


It begins millions of years ago with algal mats and bryophytes. Later, when the water recedes, the earth is stitched with gymnosperms, angiosperms, grass fills the open expanse.

It begins the way all beginnings do. Everything is new, unknown, cellular. The sun spills its full splendor across the landscape.

It begins with her opening, almost imperceptibly, toward the light. 


It begins with an organism resembling the earth worm. The change is incremental but over time it grows legs, an abdomen, thorax, and head.

It begins with the cambrian explosion, the rapid appearance of animal phyla and the evolution of organisms.

It begins with sight, with the development of the compound eye, a patchwork of eyes or ommatidia, which in their multiplicity provide the ability to see in many direction. There are 25,000 ommatidia in the dragonfly, accommodating its swift flight.  

Intersect. It begins with him, the presencing of, a multitude of parts. 


Compound eyes can assimilate visual changes at a rapid rate, but such hurried processing has its drawbacks. The brain must interpret a composite of different, high resolution pictures. It must fuse a moving image. The dragonfly cannot differentiate between an enemy and a mate. It must fly very close to the winged other before it knows what happens next—tap, tap, tap—sex or death.


The visual field of humans, of predators, involve large areas of binocular vision. This improves depth perceptions, makes possible the chase.


It begins at night, in the dark interior. She can barely make out his face, but his scent is unmistakable. Pheromones. It begins with this, a lusting for.


Fluttering. Insects travel great distances to satisfy their ecological requirements.

He swims the atlantic, traverses the north american continent, then burrows in.

She remains west, developing in situ, a process of adaptation and random selection. Like darwin’s finches, her beak is shaped perfectly to harvest local seeds, her body just small enough to slip between the thorns of the acacia tree.

If she is the product of sympatric speciation, then he is allopatric, vicariant, genetically isolate.


The green hawk moth beats its wings, feeds on the nectar of flowers with the prick of its tongue. From a distance, she mistakes it for a hummingbird.

Convergent evolution explains many things. How different species can develop similar features. How their bodies can fit each other perfectly and yet they share neither chromosome nor tongue. How his scent is absorbed by her vomeronasal organ, signaling something to her hypothalamus that she cannot translate into words.

It begins with his hands, traveling from breasts to thighs, reading the exterior. It begins with her tongue circling his neck, tasting his heredity.


It begins with her arched back, her split abdomen, unleashing waves of pheromones.

He flies toward her cascading scent, tracking her location from miles away by the increasing number of molecules that coat the hair-like olfactory receptors on his antenna.

It begins with lust but mistakes itself for love.  

She sleeps with his armpit in her mouth, licks the filamentous muskiness. When he leaves, she wraps her face in the cloth of his shirt, sucking his newly male scent like juice.


Their genetic lines are split by the western cordillera, an immense mountain range dividing the continent as if bone splitting the skin. On one side are rivers and valleys and on the other a vast open plain.

At its northern point, the cordillera is cold and dark. Between ice caps and glaciers, the earth hibernates. But even here the temperatures are rising. As the cordillera warms, it wakes and blossoms with an increasing number of fungi species.

The rise in temperature leads to an explosion of insects. Highly mobile, they mate quickly, accelerate their life cycle to match the warming planet.

As the earth warms, her mating cycle speeds up. She goes from proestrus to estrus in a single afternoon. He can sense her swelling  labia, the oocyte moved along by cilia down her  fallopian tube. 

Lets make a baby, he says, laying her down on the linoleum floor. She opens her mouth, her legs, every orifice rising up to meet him. But he has no seminal vesicles, no prostate or vas deferens. When he comes, there is only the sound of it, an echo of gametes fusing.