Biosphere 2: One Poem by Alison Hawthorne Deming

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Morning in the Lung

Link by link the rusted
releases as morning
to warm the enclosure
psychotria, ficus and
transpire. This is the experimental
under glass, space frame
            white as starlight
glass mottled with what
prolonged drought
            will allow
in our desert out there
            but in here . . .
clank clank. . . the links
            of rusted chain
release adjusting to atmospheric
that rises and falls
            with the sun
three acres of manufactured world
            oh little planet
of ingenuity and audacious hope
            where a botanist
might spend nine months
and counting and naming every
in the tropical forest
the sandbox tree disperses
by exploding its fruit          
            into space
where the marine biologist might put
red hermits into the ocean
            to clean out
brown algae. Oh little planet. . .
            clack clack
the experiment breathes and drips
            and disperses
data into the throat of
            the future.
Link by link this
becomes organism
            no artifice
hidden: the technosphere
            a complexity
underpinning and overriding
            the random.
Clack clack. . .
            the diaphragm
rises link by link
            the building
listens to itself




Alison Hawthorne Deming, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, is author of four poetry books, including Rope (Penguin 2009), and four books of nonfiction, including Writing the Sacred Into the Real and Zoologies (forthcoming from Milkweed Editions). She’s received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Bayer Award in Science Writing. Her poems and prose have been widely anthologized, including in The Norton Book of Nature Writing and Best American Science and Nature Writing.

Read poetry, an essay (“The Cheetah Run”), a guest editorial (“Ruin and Renewal”), and an interview with Alison Hawthorne Deming appearing in

Photo of the lung at Biosphere 2 by Aurora Tang. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.