From the Greek for “the dropping
of scabs.” A formula built
into us, a process that
assists the shape we take
becoming human. Its purpose,
to guarantee that certain
initial connectives fall away.
A signal’s sent and then a cell shrinks,
blebs (grows bumps) its chromatin
degrades, mitochondria leaks, and in
the final mop up, phagocytic cells feed
on the bite size apoptotic bodies.
Without it, we’d be freaks, our toes
and fingers grown together and no
eyelids separate from eyes. Especially
early on, but at each stage from
birth, we need cell suicide.
PCD: programmed cell death. Too much,
organs degenerate. Too little prompts
a cancer mass. A form of check and balance echoing,
on the small scale, a broader scheme. Imagine
if each body of each species grew and lasted
very long or for forever and multiplied its kind…
In PCD, a wisdom to override
that instinct to survive: fewer, eventually,
are more. Room must be made for increments
of change, adjustments to the surrounding flux. And so,
the individual flesh, conducted from dark shore to
dark shore, the you-shape, which apoptosis
helped to make, will be absorbed into
something different, fresh, new.
Lavina Blossom lives in Southern California. She divides her creative hours between poetry and painting. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including The Paris Review, The Literary Review, Kansas Quarterly, Poemeleon, and 3Elements Review. She is an Associate Editor of Poetry for Inlandia: a Literary Journey.