Sometimes towline, sometimes twine,
That tugs inherently and blindly,
Recoils and fails to confine
What crawls four-leggedly inside me.
Whose fossil toils, which taxa flexions
Bear blame for this relict paralysis?
Who bred in evolution of affections
Our erring ear — incus and malleus —
Now mutant incubus and malice?
Bones enlarge; their owners disappear;
Age and the Ages calibrate their size;
But with one death, with each succeeding year,
Beyond all odds inexorable and unlikely,
One face recalled, enormous in my eyes,
Unearths the mute allometry of the psyche.
NOTES for Students of English
Toils – A play on two meanings: 1) long, tiring efforts; and 2) traps.
Taxa – Plural of taxon, a scientific category of similar creatures.
Flexion – Bending or raising an arm or leg.
Relict – (Pronounced re-LIKT) Left unchanged in a process of change; persisting as a remnant of an extinct organism.
Incus and Malleus – (Pronounced INK-us and MAL-ee-us) Two small bones in the middle ear of mammals.
Allometry – (Pronounced a-LOM-e-try) The relative growth of a part in relation to the entire organism; for example, in the evolution of mammals, as the body size enlarged, the facial bones also tended to enlarge, whereas the cerebral bones did not.