Staff Submissions: Erin!

The Natural World by Erin Rice


One day in science class we used a copper wire

and a lemon to make a tiny light bulb light.

The teacher showed us why and how,

but later we could not re-spin his sense

to remember the reason it worked.


One day I found a frog lying belly-up

in a tray on my desk. His hands and feet,

stuck through with pins, were outstretched,

welcoming my knife, inviting me to undo

all the order inside him.


When I slit apart his wilted paper-skin

to expose the pale mess within,

I saw it, the mucus-yellow mass,

and immediately I had to know

what makes cells grow where they should not,

what copper outline turns on the gene

that makes that protein fold.

The frog jumped up from his formaldehyde pit

and peeled back his skin

to show me the life-damning ball of cells.


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