Emergence

Do you remember the coincidence of four billion years ago? The moment when the hot spire of lightning crashed like a mayfly into the primordial water—do you remember how the stars sang then, as life began in a burst of fire?

I remember how the lone molecule exploded into the world, gasping for air and meaning. As it began its voyage, it did not swirl apart in a spate of kinetic cruelty. Why? Is it because the earth moved so, because its orbit lay far enough from its star that the heat could not rend amino acids as they formed?

I say it is because they wanted me to find you.

You claim we are random selections of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, billions upon billions of atoms, coalescing as the pink crescent in the womb, united within this brief design till some must be on their way in breath and sweat and piss. And so we are, we are maelstroms of unlikelihoods, brief order in this disorder: because of a photon, glancing off a frond two hundred million years ago, I am not coal, nor oil, nor a scattering of carbon atoms across the world that have never known each other, perhaps met once in the smokestack of a passenger ship till a whirl of nitrogen and oxygen dragged them apart.

But somehow, in all the dust of the universe, in all this chaos and indeterminacy, I became, as did you. And it was you for whom this neural circuitry pulsed. It was you who became a surge of ions—so I finally comprehended the poetry of consciousness, for which we name the stars we do not own.

Love, you say, was nothing but indelible code—chemicals inebriating the ancestral populations as they squirmed through the mud. It was by that code that they produced offspring, as did their descendants, so that they, too, were shifting cathedrals of atomic togetherness, like we are—like we always were, even in the Precambrian.

But what then, after it’s over? This main sequence star grows old and all this roaring, this copulatory ecstasy, is futile at last.

But here, I found you—and I am the illogic that emerged from mathematical immutability. I found you, and suddenly I know, you are the reason lightning once thought to rearrange atoms in the sea. The stigmatal nectar. The candle that fooled the moth. The continuation of millions of billions of tangling archaic stories—

You and I, the ordered cell that rose to end the Hadean Eon—the protoplanet that was not ripped to pieces—the war against entropy that will eventually be lost.

I found you, and that makes it all irrelevant.