“Molecular Biology”

Molecular Biology—for Mike Searle

By now your body is probably just molecules spread out all over the place mingling with other kinds of molecules in the earth the water the air and I wonder if that’s what has happened to your consciousness as well your personality your spirit your self all of what was you scattered around the world and if that is the case then maybe you didn’t really die but instead got the chance to go everywhere at once.

I’m thinking this because every once in a while I get a kind of “whiff “of you the way I get a whiff of oranges in the produce section or on a bus a whiff of perfume that reminds me of an old girlfriend it’s not really a scent but a sudden sense of you coming out of thin air the way molecules waft off the skin of an orange or a dab of White Shoulders.

I’ve heard that the olfactory center of the brain is connected in some way to the part that stores memories and that’s why smells can be so powerfully evocative of the past; my whiffs of you evoke instantaneous impressions and vivid 3-D images of the two of us driving down the Pacific Coast Highway sitting by a small creek in the Mt. Tamalpais watershed talking poetry and politics and drinking espresso in a Berkeley café.

So if your body your consciousness your self are now millions of molecules strewn hither and yon then I can imagine some of those molecules ending up in the soil in a field where a farmer plants wheat and I can imagine those molecules working their way into the grain that is then harvested and milled into flour and baked into bread.

I can picture a young couple going to the supermarket to buy apples and cheese and a loaf of that bread to take on a picnic by the lake and I can see those two growing liquid and passionate in the late afternoon and making irresistible unstoppable love barely concealed under a willow tree near the shore I can imagine a child born of that act of love and some of your molecules tucked inside the child.

I hope I will get to meet that child before I die myself I’m sure I will recognize in her your capacious spirit your agile intellect your delight but if I don’t have that chance I imagine myself after death being like you widely dispersed some of my molecules floating to earth in a vineyard in the Napa Valley and getting themselves up inside some Cabernet grapes made into a ruby red medium-bodied wine full of fresh fruit flavors which the child—now grown up—has at dinner with friends one evening.

And there we’ll be a pair of pals—a handful of molecules—sitting on a sunny park bench somewhere in the back of that woman’s brain telling stories about the old days conjuring up memories for her of fragrances she hasn’t smelled of places she hasn’t seen of old friends she has never known.