Losing Legs Like Icarus - Poem by gershon hepner
In order for primeval snakes to slither
they had to let their dwindling leg bones wither.
Our heat receptors we should not ignore
if we like Icarus attempt to soar,
as Najash rionegrini with great abandon
appeared to do. Let’s keep two legs to land on,
remembering that wings will melt like chocolate,
and cause remarks from those who mock a lot,
for criticism is most rigorous
for those who’re emulating Icarus.
You never should attempt to fly with hub-
ris: Walk or run or take the bus or tube.
Carl Zimmer (“Scientists Again Debating How Snakes Came to Slither, ” NYT, April 25,2006) writes:
Charles Darwin was fascinated by snakes — in particular, by the tiny hip and leg bones nestled inside boa constrictors and other species. They were some of the most striking cases of evolution's imprint. Snakes descended from walking ancestors, and as they adapted to slithering, their legs dwindled to a few vestiges. It took more than a century after Darwin's death for paleontologists to find fossils of snakes with legs. In the last decade, they have found four species. The fourth, known as Najash rionegrini (the word najash is derived from the Hebrew word for snake) was unveiled in the April 20 issue of the journal Nature, and it has reignited a debate about how snakes lost their legs.
The last word of this poem, “tube, ” alludes of course to the London Underground. Thaing th tube sems to me a fine metaphor for remaining grounded even though it may be a little abstruse for an American audience.
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