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Biology: A Course Review

I read this poem several times. It brings to life the hidden reciprocity of life. Humans take for granted the way living happens and all phenomena are co-dependent. I read a bit of Alphonso Lingis today and he pointed out life is contingent upon relationships enveloped in reciprocity placing us in vulnerable spaces in this world we cohabit with all phenomena.

Maryiln McEntyre‘s poem reminds me of the vulnerability we encounter in life without realizing it. Life is, at once and paradoxically, strong and precarious. We cannot own something we hold in common with another and others. Humans encounter life as a covenant when we accept both its strength and fragility.

If you forget what axons do,
or how a virus invades a cell,
remember this—

that light becomes food.
That the seasons rhyme,
a different word each time

turning soil into living song.
That all things work together.
Even death.  Even decay.

That this is the way
of the world we got: what is given
grows by grace and care

and knows what it needs.
That life is strong, and precarious,
full of devices and desires.

That what we hold in common
may not be owned.  Control
is costly.  Close attention

is the reverence due
whatever lives and moves,
mutant and quick and clever.

That our neighbors—
the plankton, the white pine,
the busy nematodes–

serve us best
in reciprocal gratitude:
what they receive, they give.

The way the heart accepts
what the vein delivers and sends it on,
again.  Again.


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

12 responses »

  1. That life cannot be owned is a deep truth to live by. Thank you for this poem.

  2. Although each line of that poem speaks well to me, I think my favorite line is this: Control is costly. I immediately thought of governments, ours and others, controlling their people. Repression, wire tapping, spying, control of the internet. And it is costly. There seems to be more and more unrest, and unrest is a very expensive cost.

    • Anytime we attempt to control the cost is high. You make an excellent point that there is less trust, perhaps none, in our governments. The Internet was to be a great equalizer and has turned into a surveillance tool for government and corporate entities.

  3. Understanding this, changes actions. What I do to you, to any living thing, I do to me. Your site has such inspirational, soulful posts. Happy Father’s Day. ❤

  4. A wonderful as well as an important poem…to think about, understand and live by. Thank you for sharing.

  5. “Life is, at once and paradoxically, strong and precarious….” Thank you for the depth of your observation and contemplations, Ivon, as always, and for introducing this stunning and wise poem to me. Lovely and insightful post, my friend.

  6. All arranged in wisdom ; loved the verse : what they receive they give …
    Doda 🙂


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