Biology

It takes only a little while.
Then he lies back
satisfied, snores.
Nothing about this has changed.
You are one small part of a machine
that unthreads days.

Get up. Wipe yourself clean.
Clean? We are practically made of bacteria.
More inside you than honest men
on God’s green earth.
You learnt their names as a schoolgirl:
Streptococcus. Clostridium.
Lactobacillus.
Thrilled by their names,
as if you were a planet
inhabited by these creatures.

But most planets have not played host
to so much as a cell.
Stare a while at his face.
This, too, is a world sleeping in darkness.
Reach out into that darkness
to touch his warm skin,
the slow rise-and-fall of his chest,
the organisms within.
He doesn’t stir.
If there’s life out there,
where is it?