The price of life

Some microfauna,
earlier today
We're in the throes of NaPoWriMo and it is eating up a lot of my spare time to try and turn out a poem every single day.

It would probably be easier if I wrote more haiku...

This is a poem from this same festival (is that the term) in a previous year.  2010 if my records are accurate.

This is maybe less shiny than some of my poems, but I think works well done as a performance with some energy.  So that is what I've tried to do in the recording.

This is a subject that I care about quite strongly.  Not wholly from the ecological perspective, although I think that very important, but also from the rawer, darker, more-fundamental scientific angle—there is, within the universe of things that we can reach, exactly one "life".  All life on Earth is the spawn of one original life creation event.  It is all, shitake mushrooms to vampire squid (look them up), the same stuff.  We have exactly one example.

Until we land somewhere where there's more...

But even then there will only be two.  The value of this stuff cannot be overstated.  Taken to its ultimate eschatological extreme it might be the difference between a universe that means something and one that goes 'fut' and passes without comment.  So look after it.

The price of life

Lot twenty-three, one bucket of mud...

Ladies and Gentlethings,
this is the finest mud that money can buy.

Why? Just look at this chemistry,
poly-heterocyclic rings, carbon chains,

substances, whose full chemical names,
would keep you writing until the stars went out.

And for the avoidance of doubt,
this is because there's Life,

right in this bucket, genuine, natural Life,
in all its unlimited, self-designing power.

There are seventy-nine different types
of bacterium here, ready to feed

on spare carbon compounds
which you might not need

and spew more biomass—
this mud can breed.

Also in here, microscopic worms
eating, excreting, aerating by turns

and food for the slightly larger
microfauna... see, I have micrographs here

tardigrades, lice, hydra,
amoebae toofurther ingredients for the stew.

No, nothing as large as a mouse,
but there are... Seeds, nineteen different kinds:

from ruderal weeds with short life-times
(which, yes, fix more biomass)

to shrubs, of various size,
and treesthey need only light,
and carbon-dioxide.

In this bucket, everything you need,
to take a sterile world and clothe it
in a forest so deep, and green,
darkly shaded, pristine,
and if you haven't already got the idea
it's beautiful.

So, what I am bid for this bucket of mud?

I might add that it's rumoured
to come from the fabled blue-planet itself.

Shall we start the bidding
at ten, sterile star-systems?

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