In the Dose
by Darius Jones

A lonely atom annihilates itself,

driven by strange compulsions for unity.

Radiation bursts from the sun’s surface.

 

Drifting, gamma rays bounce off Earth

while a lucky few break through,

showering ever-striving life

with heat and mutation.

 

But the poison is in the dose.

And deadliest venom—in the right amount—

mimics a cure, while lifegiving water drowns.


Those same space-born changes, down eons,

slaughtered unfortunates in their billions.

Yet made the fish walk, eyes to see,

lizards to fly, primates to sing as

they bound across lunar deserts.

 

For the poison is in the dose,

and even benediction has its price:

One can smother someone to death, and

coddling will cripple the finest of creatures.

 

In time, these same star-brought changes will

propel future generations to a consciousness,

—so crystalline, so clear, so oceanic—that the

universe’s self-awareness is reflected in it.

 

And is it.

 

Embodied mind triumphant,
touching—with trembling hands—

that place where the universe ends.

Darius Jones’ stories and poems have appeared in Strange Horizons, The No Sleep Podcast, Star*Line Magazine, and other places. He is a member of the HWA and SFWA and lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Learn more at dariusjoneswriter.com.