In the Rhizome Lab


In the Rhizome Lab

In the rhizome lab women with yarnlike
red hair and doll-like striped socks
grow spruce seedlings under glass,
culture algae in beakers,
sprout moss on tables until fibers
entangle and cover the floor,
their apprentices caught in the web
like mosquitoes in a wolf spider's gauze.

In the rhizome lab men with blank notebooks
and white paper plates pile steel wool
and grow lichens on the backs of their hands
so when they gesture the whole room
starts to dance. In the rhizome lab rootlets
break through the slats on the floor, they snake
out the building, they climb up the walls

and the scientists (each holding
one thread of the weave) know
just how much tension a rhizome can take.
Rarely do they tear a hole in the fabric
of this universe, which becomes a blanket
spreading off the hillside and down to the sea

where herring and mackerel
are drawn to its glow. In the rhizome lab
there's no stopping life, no error too large
for the minuscule to recover from, no wound
too deep for fibers to fill. It's impossible
for a visitor to the rhizome lab to know
whether the project is art, science, child's play, or God.