The Waiter by David O’Neill

A long, long, long, long time ago, and then an age before,
A wild and furious ocean beat its waves upon a shore.
Not yet the time for living things, the main and rock were lords and kings
Of all the Earth’s rich store of things from firmament to core.

And flash! and crack! and bang! and boom! great storms raged overhead
And from small atoms, tossed and torn, strange molecules were bred.
In endless cycles, water flowed from sea to cloud to rain then rode
In foaming streams, with solute load, back to its ocean bed.

And round and round the cycle turned while countless years passed by.
And rock, ground into clinging clay, in littoral pools would lie.
And strange new matter, rudely formed, by lightning strike, as heavens stormed
On clay adsorbed, by sunlight warmed, still stranger bonds would tie.

And on through pregnant æons turned the watery cycle round
Till strangely fashioned molecules in helices were wound.
And in the sea, which, year by year, had leached the mineralosphere
Of salt and clay-bound scum veneer, primordial soup was found.

At length within the fœtid broth, a metaform awoke—
Fair Gaia was the fecund maid the life force did betoke.
And, casting wide, she full surveyed what violent storms had crudely made
For light to strike where clay had laid in virgin brine to soak.

And all the while with patient grace a presence watched the scene—
A formless spectral conscient mind who’d marked what there had been.
And, bending low, he strained to see what further changes there might be
As Gaia, in her primal sea, became the planet’s queen.

“Sweet Gaia!” spake the watcher then, “Pray, what will come to pass?
For ages long I’ve waited here and watched your soup amass.
Come, tell me, wondrous parvenue, what can the future promise you—
What marvels lace the vast purview of such a fertile lass?”

“Dear patient friend,” she answered soft, “if low you care to stoop,
With keening eye you may discern one of a larger group:
See, Waiter, of the insects¹, there, you may so mark, if close you stare,
With legs, full six, and wings, a pair², a fly³ is in my soup.”

[1] Subclass Pterygota

[2] See [3]

[3] A Dipteran, eg Musca domestica

David O’Neill is a frustrated mathematician who has journeyed through a predominantly life-science-based medical landscape for most of his mortgage-paying professional life, eventually finding salvation in the Open University, too close to the end for practical application but sufficiently early for peace of mind and poetic inspiration.



3 thoughts on “The Waiter by David O’Neill

  1. davidoneill864 says

    Thank you! Unfortunately, the poem has probably become anachronistic since I wrote it, following the introduction of the modern view that abiogenesis probably occurred at oceanic vents, associated with the presence there of what Brian Cox described as “proton waterfalls”. Ah well. 🙂

    1. bill allen says

      IT is still a wonderful piece! I once wrote a poem which had a good reception all round until a smart alec physicist pointed out that my notion of electrons was false. These folks got no soul!


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