The Warm Little Pond Where Life Began

And fearing the heat death of our planet

we reread it might be true, that founding tale

we’ve reimagined over the years—

how water from somewhere celestial

created an ocean as the planet formed,

washing across rocky accretions,

how a simple chain of weathering steps

might have given rise to amino acids,

how lightning strikes might have forged

the bonds that dried under the warming skies,

volcanoes’ rain shifting the acidity to couple

them up as they dried out into the strands

that could replicate—and given oceans’

hydrothermal vents and time enough,

evolve the single cell, its concentration

gradient, ferns and trees and the garden

and you and me, the ruinous hungers

of our gifted-with-knowledge species–

for now we’ll need Noah’s story

retold for a desert of sand dunes

to rescue the endless forms most beautiful

that Darwin named to us and bequeathed.

Robin Chapman

Robin Chapman’s work has been awarded the Cider Press Book Editors’ Award, the Posner Poetry Award, the Wisconsin Library Association’s Outstanding Book of Poetry Award, and the Helen Howe Poetry Award from Appalachia. She lives in Madison, WI. Panic Season (Tebot Bach, 2022, available from is her newest book.

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