Chapter 16
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“Darwin’s Breath”

Book Excerpt: Darwin’s Breath

Darwin’s Breath

What tone
then for the always ongoing
eavesdrop on our souls?
~Jeff Hardin

When the sun sinks
behind the Cumberland Plateau,
fireflies rise like stars,
and here, perched in the valley,
I think about navigation-
how there are only narrow
ways out, how mountains
loom to the north and west,
spires in the Smokies pierce
the heavens east and south.

My geologist friend tells me
these are the oldest mountains
on earth, tectonic plates
that slipped, slid, elevated,
fossils of deep sea embedded
in ridges, her practiced eye plucking
them from clear cuts, outcroppings:
trilobite, cephalopod, ammonite.

We are made of fragments-
amoeba into fish into amphibian
and mammal, the path
of our development the history
of the world. How then to speak
of the soul, wish for its whisper
as we skirt the ordinary,
waking, sleeping, waking,
our lives deepening into dust?

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