Gabriel Welsch

A Natural Selection

“Nature does not proceed by leaps.” —Linnaeus
Here and there
the minute stutter of biology
works from quill to spur,
vesicle to panicle to lisp,
building the traits that mean
we adapt. The pitch pine coats its cones
in resin so it only sprouts in the fires
that savage every century or so;
the dromedary hump defines
the depth of deserts. Given that lexicon
what of the far less delicate
bomb, the maladaptive urge to resign,
or the simple singleness of murder?
If I can make it past this question
and its jumble of mutations—
well, who’s to say? There float yet more
mysteries—the fragile bow
of the ulna, the specifics required
by seeds, the varying sizes
of lenticels, all those floss thin
signs of circumstance,
fronds tested time and again
by the unseen wonder of wind.
—for David J. Welsch

Gabriel Welsch
A Natural Selection was first published in Chautauqua Literary Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2004.
Poem, copyright © 2004 by Gabriel Welsch
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse