C. elegans

Caenorhabditis elegans : genome sequenced

Ground-breaking news about the nematode
C. elegans—an even simpler beast
than they had thought, with a genetic code
nineteen percent identical to yeast.

And now I hear the sequencing machines
associate me with him—with vermin—by
festooning us in matching strands of genes:
A common heritage I can’t deny,

but a worm—he’s less than dirt, the über-low
doormat to the world, bred to submit
and never turn (except earth-clods), and so
unprepossessing. Except I’ve also read

how it’s supposedly the meek who hit
the jackpot—the big legacy—and earn
what great H. sapiens inherited:
the earth that elegans was first to turn.

Deborah Warren

Deborah Warren

Deborah Warren’s books include The Size of Happiness (2003, Waywiser Press); Zero Meridian (2004, Ivan R. Dee), winner of the New Criterion Poetry Prize; Dream With Flowers and Bowl of Fruit (2008, Evansville), which won the Richard Wilbur Award, and Ausonius: The Moselle and Other Poems (2017, Routledge). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, and The Yale Review. In 2021, her book Strange to Say: Etymology for Serious Entertainment and her book Connoisseurs of Worms are forthcoming from Paul Dry Press.
Deborah Warren

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Author: Deborah Warren

Deborah Warren’s books include The Size of Happiness (2003, Waywiser Press); Zero Meridian (2004, Ivan R. Dee), winner of the New Criterion Poetry Prize; Dream With Flowers and Bowl of Fruit (2008, Evansville), which won the Richard Wilbur Award, and Ausonius: The Moselle and Other Poems (2017, Routledge). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, and The Yale Review. In 2021, her book Strange to Say: Etymology for Serious Entertainment and her book Connoisseurs of Worms are forthcoming from Paul Dry Press.