Linda Bierds

DNA

At hand: the rounded shapes—cloud white, the scissors—sharp,
two dozen toothpick pegs, a vial of amber glue.
It’s February, London, 1953,
and he’s at play, James Watson: the cardboard shapes,

two dozen toothpick pegs, a vial of amber glue.
White hexagons, pentagons, peg-pierced at the corners—
he’s at play, James Watson, turning cardboard shapes
this way, that. And where is the star-shot elegance

when hexagons, pentagons, peg-pierced at the corners,
slip into their pliant, spiral-flung alignments?
Where is that star-shot elegance? This way? That?
He slips together lines of slender pegs that quickly

split in two. (Pliant, spiral-flung, one line meant
solitude. But one to one? Pristine redundancy.)
He slips. Together, lines of slender pegs quickly
conjugate. White hexagons, white pentagons:

not solitude but—one, two, one—pristine redundancy.
So close the spiral shape, now. Salt and sugar atoms
congregate: white hexagons, white pentagons.
So close the bud, the egg, the laboratory lamb,

the salt and sugar atoms’ spiral shape. So close—
it’s February, London, 1953—
the blossom, egg, the salutary lamb. So close
at hand, the rounded shapes—cloud white, the scissors—sharp.

 

“DNA” is reprinted from Virginia Quarterly Review and First Hand (G. P. Putnam and Sons, 2005).

Linda Bierds – DNA from UW College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

 

Linda Bierds was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her family settled in Seattle when she was seven. She earned her BA and MA, with an emphasis in fiction, from the University of Washington. Her many collections of poetry include Flights of the Harvest Mare (1985); Heart and Perimeter (1991); The Ghost Trio (1994), which was a Notable Book Selection by the American Library Association; The Profile Makers (1997); The Seconds (2001); First Hand (2005); and Flight: New and Selected Poems (2008). Bierds is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Poetry Society of America, and the MacArthur Foundation. She teaches English and writing at the University of Washington, and lives on Bainbridge Island.

 


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