Today's poem is by Richard Cecil

My Personal Theory of Evolution

No sea-view condos under half a million
on RealEstate.com—I guess I'm doomed
to live and die out of sight of the ocean.
Still, in my bones I'm gripped by this compulsion
to crawl back to the sea my genes crawled from
eons ago, imprisoned in the form
of an ichthyosaurus—that is, a walking fish
driven landward by the opposite wish
to turn its back on water and crawl inland
until its scaly fins turned into hands.
But even after gills turned into lungs,
generations of its offspring hung
around the beach, afraid to crawl beyond
the reach of waves, or trust the brackish ponds
to satisfy nostalgia for the sea
which they no longer lived in, or could breathe.
Though these fish out water needed air,
they never learned completely not to care
how far from their spawning grounds they moved.
Their bodies, not their stubborn brains, evolved.
Eventually, some turned into sea birds,
some into dinosaurs who slowly lumbered
toward food and shelter on the inland plains
where I live now, far from the hurricanes
and competition for scant ocean view
high rise condominiums that few
Midwest marooned sea-lovers can afford.
But some old dragons save until their hoard's
sufficient for a ten percent down payment
on a sea-view unit they can rent
to my kind, who have been improvident—
who dreamed about escaping inland caves
and someday stretching out beside the waves
instead of piling up high mounds of treasure
by working hard and skipping costly pleasure—
such as this week in a condo by the sea.
The couple who are renting it to me
live farther north and farther from the coast
than I do, which means that they make the most
of their half a million dollar wise investment—
they own it but get me to pay the rent.
I see them drive through snow to bank my check
while I, dumb dreamer, languish on their deck.

Copyright © 2005 Richard Cecil All rights reserved
from Cimarron Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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