In Vitro

A fireplace with wood carefully laid, unlit;
a worn leather chair in which to sit and read
these tomes, the Readings from the Javelin
—suggests the flight of light from heat,
suggests the days when hunter and leopard
were actually set ablaze in, let’s say, Borneo.
For in vitro, sunlight is lush abeyance.

For the leopard, it’s hard to die. With each step
her muscles seem to rip and bleed,
as blood through cloth, her skin on fire.
Can the leopard fear her own death, the slicing blow,
the rush of air, the whoosh her lungs make
and the thump of steel against her bone?
Can she know where her life ends and where it begins?

The leopard/ hunter dies. And if they leave
behind a daughter, as it were, in vitro, well,
she has their picture in the Readings to look at. But
there is no terror in their walk, no strife in their neck.
The blood in their lungs is venal blood, no longer red—
for even the late afternoon sunlight can be replaced,
in vitro, or so it seems. So cheap is life.

Published by extrasimile

define: extra: excess, more than is needed, required or desired; something additional of the same kind. define: simile: a simile is a type of figurative language, language that does not mean exactly what it says, that makes a comparison between two otherwise unalike objects or ideas by connecting them with the words “like” or “as.” The reader can see a similar connection with the verbs resemble, compare and liken. Similes allow an author to emphasize a certain characteristic of an object by comparing that object to an unrelated object that is an example of that characteristic. define: extra: an minor actor in a crowd scene

3 thoughts on “In Vitro

  1. I suppose I was using ‘in vitro’ in its general, literal meaning of ‘within glass’ to suggest, let’s say, a specimen case on the one hand and the suspension that one finds in the poem—or the suspension one finds in all poems (Keats reflecting on his urn)—on the other… while at the same time counting on the association we have with ‘in vitro’ and ‘fertilization’ to allow a little fooling around with some sort of progeny that the poem, or the poem’s suspension, has spawned (Keats again: More happy love. More happy, happy love.). Something like that.
    Good to have you back, John. I was afraid I was wearing you out.

  2. I’m catching up with my reading after a holiday. This one I’ve read quite a few times now.
    Not quite sure what to make of the term “in vitro” here: in a test tube seems not exactly pertinent; through a window perhaps; or in a glass case (the stuffed animal); or even the TV or computer screen bringing other worlds?
    Never mind that. I greatly enjoyed the quiet opening: an indoor safe scene … a magazine of a sport derived from Man’s earlier hunting needs. Then pictures of a rougher world: through the window maybe, or pre-civisation. That’s a magnificent depiction of a leopard and of her possible death at the hands of the hunter. And a quiet ending: a touch of melancholy in this as well as reflections on mortality and the passing of vigour.
    I must next read the villanelle you’ve since posted.

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