23andMe by Alan Toltzis

“Lemons. I think about lemons, cut and weeping juice, so I can express a full 5 ccs of spit and foam into the smooth glass tube.”

23andMe by Alan Toltzis

Lemons.
I think about lemons,
cut and weeping juice,
so I can express
a full 5 ccs of spit and foam
into the smooth glass tube.

180,000 years of personal history
embedded in 23 pairs of chromosomes—
mismatched boards salvaged
from poor wooden houses
torn down to build a new one.

Alleles align, diverge,
evolve from East Africa,
north to the Middle East,
across the Mediterranean,
finally settling in Eastern Europe.
Here, a hint of Yakut
like a lone and frail magnolia bloom
filling a full acre with perfume on a hot afternoon;
there a Finnish strain
fading in, fading out,
indistinct and scratchy
late on an open-window summer night.

This morning, I have no choice
and become my most ancient self.
I feel vines wind around my legs,
bits of loam work themselves beneath my brittle nails,
and fine dust coats the ridges of my fingerprints,
bumpy, yellow, and rough.
By afternoon, the sun will shimmer over my grasslands
as I wait for its arc to move low in the white-hot sky.

*

Alan Toltzis is the author of two collections of poetry, 49 Aspects of Human Emotion and The Last Commandment. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications including, Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and The Wax Paper. Find him online at alantoltzis.com.

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