Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Beginning - Mark O'Connor

God himself
having that day planted a garden
walked through it at evening and knew
that Eden was not nearly complex enough.
And he said:
"Let species swarm like solutes in a colloid.
Let there be ten thousand species of plankton
and to eat them a thousand zooplankton.
Let there be ten phyla of siphoning animals,
one phylum of finned vertebrates, from
white-tipped reef shark to long-beaked coralfish,
and to each his proper niche,
and — no Raphael, I'm not quite finished yet —
you can add seals and sea-turtles & cone-shells & penguins
(if they care) and all the good seabirds your team can devise —
oh yes, and I nearly forgot it, I want a special place
for the crabs! And now for parasites to keep
the whole system in balance, let . . ."

". . . In conclusion, I want," he said
"ten thousand mixed chains of predation —
none of your simple rabbit and coyote stuff!
This ocean shall have many mouths, many palates,
many means of ingestion. I want
a hundred ways of death, three thousand regenerations —
all in technicolour naturally. And oh yes, I nearly forgot,
we can use Eden again for the small coral cay in the center.

"So now Raphael, if you please,
just draw out and marshall these species,
and we'll plant them all out in a twelve-hectare patch."

So for five and a half days God laboured
and on the seventh he donned mask and snorkel
and a pair of bright yellow flippers.

And, later, the host all peered wistfully down
through the high safety fence around Heaven
and saw God with his favourites finning slowly over the coral
in the eternal shape of a grey nurse shark,
and they saw that it was very good indeed.

Mark O'Connor (born 1945) Australia

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