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Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
Born in 1913, Muriel Rukeyser drew on many different sources of inspiration and used her poetry as a mode of social protest...
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The Conjugation of the Paramecium

 
by Muriel Rukeyser

This has nothing
to do with
propagating

The species
is continued
as so many are
(among the smaller creatures)
by fission

(and this species
is very small
next in order to
the amoeba, the beginning one)

The paramecium
achieves, then,
immortality
by dividing

But when
the paramecium
desires renewal
strength another joy
this is what 
the paramecium does:

The paramecium
lies down beside
another paramecium

Slowly inexplicably
the exchange
takes place
in which
some bits
of the nucleus of each
are exchanged

for some bits 
of the nucleus
of the other

This is called
the conjugation of the paramecium.






From The Speed of Darkness by Muriel Rukeyser, published by W.W. Norton. Copyright © 1968 Muriel Rukeyser. Used with permission.
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