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  • Tramping through the mountains with his pick,
    he searches for rocks to study the history
    of ancient microscopic creatures. He knocks at strata,
    collects samples that weigh down his backpack.

    He has a terminal disease. Not just life, the disease
    we all have, but multiple myeloma, which grows
    from inside his bones, deeper, faster, crueler.
    But you wouldn’t guess it from his stride.

    At home, he slices rock samples thin and looks
    for tiny organisms. He names the new ones,
    perhaps after a woman, perhaps
    after a moment in history when something shifted

    like all the parallels he finds in his daily hikes.
    The microscope shows patterns, splendor,
    entire galaxies freed,
    suddenly, from a matrix of solid rock.

    Mary Stebbins Taitt
    for Dave
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