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The Red Queen

by Richard Paez

So why have you split

in two, become recombinant,

given yourself up

to being something

that has to be raped

to survive?

 

Something inside of you—

bigger than you—

realized the weakness in you.

 

Your defenses stayed

the same for too long,

thinking your predators

as stable as you.

 

The world

inside and outside

evolves.

 

The diseases and parasites changed.

 

They found ways though the walls

that once kept you alive

and safe from the dangers.

The walls

that became a cell

filling with the poison

that was killing you.

 

It took all the running you could do,

just to keep in the same place.

 

You got tired, started

to fall behind.

So you broke away

from the way things were meant to be—

cut yourself in two

because something inside of you—

something bigger than you—

realized that you have to give up half

of yourself to live forever.

 

Survival, the passing on of oneself

is better

incomplete

than not-at-all.

 

So you have split

in two, become recombinant.

Given yourself to rape,

giving up half of yourself

so that the remainder may be

immortal.

 

The little fish, the topminnow, has but one choice in its life. The parasitic worms that cause black-spot disease know where and how to attack the fish’s body. Some topminnows reproduce asexually, cloning themselves--their defenses, their souls--and thus preserve themselves whole but provide the worms that know their weaknesses with easy targets. Other topminnows reproduce sexually, giving only half of themselves over to immortality, but providing an ever-moving, ever-changing target for their attackers. And so it is in all life. Even human life. Each morning we are born again, we have the choice of asking ourselves a question. The question is: are we to be the result of the coalescence of the multiple essences that we may be, even though that may involve a little death each day, or do we cling to one image, one self, and thus allow the things that can destroy that one self destroy everything?

 

You don’t see it yet and may never, but you are the topminnow, as I am. You have made the most difficult choice in all existence, dared to ask yourself the question and answer it: you have chosen to risk losing half of yourself, and everything that went along with that half, so that the other half may live forever. It seems a unique and frightening step, but you will realize that is one that has been taken innumerable times before, ever since the first amoeba swallowed another and decided it more beneficial to assimilate than digest.

 

Evolution is not death, it is a continuation.

11/12/2005

Posted on 11/13/2005
Copyright © 2020 Richard Paez

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