SCULPTURES BY BASIA IRLAND
KATHLEEN DEAN MOORE
I. Ice Is a seed.
Balls of ice sowed seeds of life on Earth. That’s what comets are,
just clumps of ice holding interstellar rocks and dust. But in that
dust are amino acids and nucleotides that build living things.
Many scientists think that this might be one way life began on
Earth, 4 billion years ago, when the spinning arms of the galaxy cast comets over the planet, comets and comets and comets,
protolife smacking onto the broken lava plains, until basins
gathered the meltwater into oceans, and the oceans nurtured onrushing life.
Ice sows ice, too. The first grains
gleamed in white sunshine, throwing back the sun’s heat and cooling
their own small shadows. More ice
formed in the cool places, and the
shine of it cooled a larger shadow,
until the reflectivity of the growing
ice sheets cooled the whole planet, finally draped in dazzling layers of ice. Now the glaciers that remain in mountain valleys give
life to rivers—the Ganges, the Fraser, the Colorado—as meltwater slides down blue rills and finally cuts a channel through
gravel and till.
II. a seed Is a book.
In hot winds at the end of summer, mountain mahogany seeds
unfurl. Each pod sprouts a few white feathers, loosely coiled. A
feather-seed lofts over the ridge and drifts onto dirt. After a hard
rain, the seed swells and uncoils, augering its hard head into the
soil. There it plants all the instructions for making a mountain
mahogany sapling, laid out in the language of DNA.
LEFT: Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii). Rio Grande, New Mexico.
ABOVE: Red maple (Acer rubrum), American elm (Ulmus americana).