I Cannot Get Over the Miracle of Cell Division
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
My cats were born soft and small as peaches
and I tell my mother I cannot get over the miracle
of cell division. How something minuscule
multiplies into muscle mass, coat patterns, a registry
of cause and effect, and divergent personalities.
Like, how one of my cats has grown smart
enough to open doors, chews scenery only
when she wants fed, while her sister, restless
as a cooped finch, is also too scattered
to learn the higher arts of tantrums and escape.
I confess to my mother I can hardly understand
this hurt of watching, loving them as they grow.
My mother gives me a look that makes me stop talking.
As if none of the words I’ve learned could describe
how it feels to mother two girls. My smart cat
comes to me each night to go through the motions
of suckling. She kneads into my right bicep, claws out
so many beads of blood that the skin scabs over
like sandpaper. I’m afraid, now, to tell my mother
about this ritual of caregiving. She has yet
to lift up her shirt to show me all her scars.
Meaningful Symbols Placed in Meaningful Places
I woke up this morning to tell you there may be caves on every continent
marked with ochre and blood and calcium, that we have never been so alone
as to be alien in expressions of love. It has never been a mystery why a child
would trace her hand upon paper any more than any vertebrate that shivers
would turn its face to the sun. Maybe, to be alive today is too much, to choke
upon the lies so many people serve in lieu of common dignity. But to be alive
has always meant waking up, facing sunward, repeating to those we love the truths
that will outlive us. I woke up this morning to tell you Neandertals made art
in caves and as-yet undiscovered places. Surely, all our common ancestors
made art in leaves, art in hair, in song and other intangibles. I woke up because
our lives are holy with such truths as cell division, rock formation, mental
maps that leave their traces in uranium-thorium decay. I wake up in such good
company, knowing we were never the first and won’t be the last to turn the fact
of sunlight into symbol, symbol into body language, movement of bodies against
other bodies into such sciences, such memories, into such blinding hopes.