Trees of Life

I saw on the news
that scientists have learned
to grow the cells of a heart muscle
in the cellulose left behind
when you suck out
everything that makes
a leaf of spinach
    a leaf of spinach.

Hollowed out, limp white, the ghosts
of greenery can be seeded
with the tiniest dose
of humanity, a scattering
of frightened cells that grasp
the vascular scaffold
and cling for dear life —
these wisps of blood remember
another time when we huddled like this,
against the walls of ventricular caves
back before time had a name —
our cells huddle and cling
until plant and muscle merge
and chlorophyll learns
to give up sunlight and sustain
itself on the thu-thump thu-thump
of pulse and bloodflow.

It turns out you can transform
all sorts of vegetation into veins: parsley,
sweet wormwood, arterial jewelweed —
even the straight column from twig or stick
can be worried down to translucent shell
and taught to become a vessel of blood.

That night I slept and dreamt
of red vines that crept aortic at my ankles,
of lush capillary jungles, flooded, throbbing,
of a garden of wild muscle —

a place where the sun rises cardiac,
red on petals engorged, a place where,
when rain showers gently down,
you can stroll among the stems,

run the tips of your fingers across
the veins of the leaves,
and feel heartbeats in the blossoms,
in the four-chambered pistil and stamen,
in the breath of pollen, a mist like copper.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.
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