Yesterday driving to Doug's
I saw how the soybeans
Were so enriched green it was erotic
Like my eyes were hands laid
Upon your Jewel.
Then there was the corn,
Each ear at exactly the height
To be picked by some machine
Rumbling under a billboard that says:
Food from farms, not big Pharma.
The farmer is at least rotating
Corn with legumes with weeds.
But never enough time between
For anything to go native,
Let alone remember what wild was.
The past is said to be a foreign country.
O what hope is there for me
So lost in the present?
What hope for this weed lost
Among the stalks of the corn.
This poem coalesced in response to a brief prompt at a writer's workshop at school this week. The prompt was something about the past being a foreign country, but I forgot to write the actual quote down. The images and observations about corn and soybeans and the sign for the poem had been rattling around in my brain since the weekend when we went to visit a friend, Doug Patterson (AKA "The Gambling Geek").
I am not a luddite, and the point of the poem at one level is that people fear biotechnology "Big Pharma" and yet when we do something as mundane as grow crops we alter the evolution of the plants. For instance we select plants that are best suited for harvesting by machine. What we do, of course, makes the plants less and less suitable for more natural environments including unmechanized agriculture. So not only are we becoming more dependent on technology, but we are forcing the biosphere into a similar sort of dependence- forcing other creatures to specialize along with us.
Maybe that is inevitable but we ought to go into this sort of change with our eyes open as to the risks as well as the benefits. Are we getting ourselves as a species into an evolutionary trap that will doom us should there be some lapse in technology?