“Negative Entropy,” from The Lightning-Struck Tower, by Sheila Shannon (1947)

cells

Negative Entropy
or
The Third Law of Thermodynamics
or
How It is We Keep Alive

We feed on crystals, feast on minerals,
Batten, upon the moon, consume the stars
And through the channels of our love drain off
The sun’s heat and the whole world’s energy.

The crocus and the oak, the elephant,
The long-tailed tit, the taxidermist’s owl,
Our eyes, our hair, our nails, all, all the same
Millions of indistinguishable atoms
Chaos in single numbers, order in milliards.

Only the passionate indestructible pattern
Of the all-but-eternal molecule, carries the key.
Locked in its heart lies the secret
To grow from the acorn the oak,
From the corm the year’s yellow crocus,
From the fertilised cell the elephant,
From the egg the tit or the owl,
From eyes our children’s eyes, from hair their hair
And from our nails their same peculiar nails.

Each greedy of life resists death,
Sucks sustenance from the desert;
Devours the rock and the ruby.
Until we cool to our end
And dying provide new fires
For love and fresh generation.

from The Lightning Struck Tower, by Sheila Shannon
London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1947

Available on the Internet Archive Link.

This is one of a series of neglected poems taken from the Internet Archive.

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