‘If your parents kept on having children, they’d have to visit the maternity hospital another million billion times to stand a chance of producing another child with your genes. This is your moment, your own personal “big bang” moment when you were conceived, a sperm and egg met for the first time. Each of them was carrying a special delivery. Half of the instruction manual for how to build a human. Magic happened, the two sets of instructions came together and the rest is history.’ BBC Science Gene Stories

What dance of genes

What dance of genes; from where

the pattern, calling this one child -

particular since the beginning

of time. In stardust, blackness,

this promise - these materials;

so transformed by the practice

of life, they have come from a drop

of water, to this child looking back.

‘The human eye has about 137 million separate ‘seeing’ elements…And the child’s eye is not only an eye true to the human type, but an eye with personal likeness to its individual parents. The many cells which made it have executed correctly a multitudinous dance engaging millions of performers in hundreds of sequences of particular different steps, differing for each performer according to his part. To picture the complexity and the precision beggards any imagery I have.’ Sir Charles Sherrington, Man and His Nature, Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, 1951

Black Mirrors with Two Stars

Not a stitch was dropped from your pattern -

poreless-as-a-white-rose skin spun flawless;

dandelion hair, becoming sun-burned wheat.

Fish-mouth pink, limpet-printed; eyes polished

four billennia, to this shine, black glass mirrors,

dark as space with two stars; where I see myself.

Each child is a work of art

Each child is a work of art,

     pulled from stars and water,

earth, over four billion years;

figured from light and dust -

original - unique in creation;

and always loved most of all.

We are still one, in nature

I understand how the genes that called you

to existence are replicated - altered in me -

we are still one, in nature, with nature.

I will touch you in that old grey tree -

the lily flower you love that folds away

its head precisely when gold sun slides

down the garden wall into hollyhock flames;

everywhere green here you so slowly seeded.

Most of all in my own pale hand,

look of my blue eyes in mirrors -

I will not need to look for you;

you are here, I am made of you.

Your messages have been received -

will go on reading, being read aloud.

Four Billion Years of Work

I saw the puffed white star

of my child’s new hand -

and understood as a revelation,

how four billion years of work

had entered every finger -

gloving that original light;

such craft of time and Nature,

untiring rehearsals of his life.

When his ancient Willow Pattern

eyes opened bleeding blue irises -

I knew I looked upon Creation’s

most shining invention; but more

startling, from out of that darkness,

saw it look back - looking like me.

How lovely the souls of children

How lovely the souls of children;

how close to God - as exemplars

of love; devoted, loyal, patient

for every drop - so terrifyingly

forgiving. How colour blind,

without benefit of the genetic

explanation, naturally

recognising their kin,

and among all children and animals; 

no wonder they shine so in sunlight.

Only children and lambs

Only children and lambs

jump thus with delight -

bouncing up and down

in blinking washed sun.

Only children and lambs

get use from the words -



If we could but find this merry gene

again - why does it fall so comatose,

buried deep in the adult animal;

if we could re-wire, re-activate,

we too could express our feelings

that a long awaited spring is here.

‘How genetic and environmental Factors Affect Children - A group of US federal agencies are collaborating on a new project designed to study how genetic and environmental factors affect children. Researchers plan to use that information to identify potential threats to their health. The National Children's Study (NCS) combines the efforts of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Approval for the NCS came as part of US legislation, the Children's Health Act 2000. The NCS will follow 100 000 children from before birth to age 21. Pregnant women will be recruited in the beginning stages of the study. Early information, such as the woman's antenatal diet, any exposure to chemicals, and their general health and emotional state will be recorded. Over the years, researchers will examine environmental factors that may affect the children. 'Environmental' is defined broadly, including natural and man-made environmental factors, biological and chemical factors, physical surroundings, social factors, behavioural influences and outcomes, genetics, and cultural and family influences and differences. This will be done by conducting physical, mental, emotional and developmental examinations of the children, as well as interviewing parents and environmental sampling of their homes, with a hope to understanding the role of such factors in health and disease. For example, they will ask parents to report such things as how much television the child watches, whether they attend a day-care, how the child is disciplined and what kind of foods the child eats. With this data, researchers may be able to answer questions such as does attending a day-care influence a child's developmental growth or do vaccines cause autism? Several working groups on specialist subjects have been set up, including ones that will focus on specific areas such as exposure to chemical agents, injury, gene-environment interactions, medicines and pharmaceuticals, fertility and early pregnancy, birth defects, development and behaviour, repository issues, and ethics.’ Wellcome Trust, 2004

The flower we have planted is subject

to so much clustering of circumstance;

from mysterious seed in unknown dark

to the scripted unfolding of our organic

knowledge; influence of chemicals,

sunlight, word and music - income,

education, opportunity - familial factors -

behavioural witness, discipline. Patterns,

outcome so fabulously tangled, entwined,

we are afraid - but must do all we can, be

sure our good influence harmonises genes

in best interest of this child we have drawn

down from stars; created from life’s burning

tools - thus leaving new humans in our care.

My child is Creation’s highest art

My child is Creation’s highest art -

like all children, apotheosis of life’s

perpetual high Renaissance;

his skin, flowering of touch,

chemical beauties in exhibition,

four billion years of endeavour,

aching aesthetic of Evolution;

he hallows deaths of creatures,

sacrifice of species struggle,

that crawling he remembers,

cherubs showing how nearly

wings appear still on a child,

flying swan/people are easy

in artistic minds as angels -

babies out in bright sunshine

demonstrate shimmer-wings

by fine silver light-hairs

downing sparrow blades.

Creation’s royalty and joy -

summer children wear haloes

crowning shining hair;

circlets of solar gold -

smelted by receptive chemistry

of youth where cloud, darkness

has not yet cancelled Childhood’s

original light kept fresh, rekindled

in each new life - and most beloved

of a passionate God, so more nearly

Him than any president or king;

teaching parents of love’s truth.

‘Two art students are planning to grow trees containing the genetic identity of human beings. The idea is to replace the unused ‘junk’ DNA in trees with entire human genomes. The ‘humanised’ trees would be unaffected by the change, but still carry the biological essence of the DNA donors. One possibility envisaged is that the trees could replace gravestones as a way of preserving the memory of departed loved ones. If an apple tree was used, it would provide an edible as well as a visible reminder. Like the rest of the tree, the fruit would contain human DNA. “Implanting your grandmother’s DNA into an apple tree brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Granny Smith’, said George Tremmel, from the Royal College of Art in London. “But would you eat an apple from your grandma’s tree?’ The Scotsman, 2003

Small Sparkling Stories

Now I understand, my old father - dad -

who has survived a battering from time;

deadly viral assaults on brain and heart -

when the perceived enclosed bird of life,

seen as such to me for the first time,

struggled white against this earthly,

mortal cage; spreading wings,

muscles and fluttering. Blood

began to metamorphose into light,

under skin, in eyes, for an escape -

travel, departure; instead,

how you have risen again

for these dearly purchased years,

rewritten the possible outcomes -

stayed with me here, been there;

altered - but coming back now -

healing even as you speak;

in one of the small miracles

which sparkle in the dark world -

illuminate personal stories of life.

Children and animals seem preferable to adults

There are times when children and animals

seem so much preferable to adults; our dogs

offer more care, companionship, affection;

more sympathy, sensitivity, loyalty - (cats

maybe pushing it); but even our rabbit will hop

with delight at good human news, not feel sick.

Children have not learned to be horrible adults -

they enjoy the universe, many small good things

of the world; over and over they prove original

love survives, true love that cannot stop being -

you can see how a child’s face shines, illumines,

as Jesus’s skin must have done - even at nightfall.

‘Disparities in health status constitute a significant global issue, but can genome-based approaches to health and disease help to reduce this problem? Social and other environmental factors are major contributors to health disparities; indeed, some would question whether heritable factors have any significant role. But population differences in allele frequencies for some disease-associated variants could be a contributing factor to certain disparities in health status, so incorporating this information into preventive and/or public-health strategies would be beneficial. Research is needed to understand the relationship between genomics and health disparities by rigorously evaluating the diverse contributions of socioeconomic status, culture, discrimination, health behaviours, diet, environmental exposures and genetics.’ A Vision for the Future of Genomics Research, US National Human Genome Research Institute, 2003

‘A global survey of serious genetic conditions has reported that almost eight million children worldwide are born with a serious genetic defect each year. The  March of Dimes Global Report on Birth Defects: The Hidden Toll of Dying and Disabled Children, which is based on information on single-gene disorders, chromosomal disorders and physical malformations from 193 countries, found that overall around 6 per cent of babies are born with a serious genetic or partially genetic defect, the vast majority in poorer countries. ‘ Wellcome Trust, 2006

All children are our children

All children are our children -

in our care, our responsibility;

if one hair of their head is harmed,

we are all to blame - collectively -

for we were not watching closely

enough, because our human eyes

can see though any barriers.

If we turn away from a child

in need; any suffering child,

air around our head burns –

an anti-halo charring hearts,

shrinking the soul as plastic;

we are morally polluted,

diminished, self-harmed.

Every word we utter to children matters -

acting on the complicated gene cocktails.

Every look, hug, cuddle, alters DNA,

each interaction prints, affects, stays

written somewhere; might be all some day

between capacity for happiness, recovery -

stability, survival, trust, learning, love; and not.

Nurture is a communal and personal necessity –

fail, and the world is diminished, weakened;

life unenriched, paled, bleached – unshined.

Every time it rains, it is the metaphorical tears

of children suffering somewhere in the world,

whom we have known about and not helped;

or never bothered to find out about and help.

Zoing! POW! Zap! Gazooks!

The Sun has just returned!

You jump into blinding air

like water - splashing

sunbeams and flashes;

white puppy teeth snapping,

haloes of child hair shining,

flung like fairground rings -

skin wiring rejuvenated light

through shimmering

white-gold filaments;

fur remnants to animal heart -

Zoing! POW! Zap! Gazooks!

Hardwired to spring, the connected

human circuit; eyes re-fueling blue,

springometer rising, dancing with Earth’s

fresh molecules - raising your green arms,

pliable as these gymnastic young willows;

bud-cheeks now bulging towards summer.

‘The sins of the father may well be visited upon his children. Research has revealed that a young man's lifestyle during childhood affects the health of his sons and grandsons. According to a survey of thousands of couples who had babies during the 1990s, men who took up smoking before puberty fathered boys who, at nine years old, were significantly fatter than other children. The study by Marcus Pembrey, a clinical geneticist at the Institute of Child Health in London, shows for the first time that childhood lifestyles causes temporary tweaks to DNA that are also passed on to future generations .. "It seems that before puberty, our genes are tuned to suit the environment we are living in at the time, and it is these changes that are passed down the male line," said Professor Pembrey. Working with scientists in Sweden, Prof Pembrey analysed a survey of British couples called the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and pulled out data on 5,000 fathers who were, or had once been, smokers. After accounting for other factors, they found that while sons born to young smokers were fatter, there was no similar effect among females, New Scientist reports. The researchers also analysed historical records from Sweden that traced families back three generations. They found men who were young during harsh food shortages fathered boys who lived longer. "Biology is all about adaptation, and what may be happening is that if the body perceives some kind of stress, whether it is a noxious chemical or lack of food, it tries to make adaptations to give any offspring the best possible chance of survival," said Prof Pembrey.’ The Guardian, 2006

Genetic fine-tuning - adaptation to environment,

subtle shifts in circumstance; chemical receptors

altering the dance, changing steps, shuffling

means, expression, solution. Imagine hunger

as re-worked code, surviving physical food,

satiety, plenty, to spectral thin blue message

in the genes - slipping one body to another

like a whippet; skinny, insidious, infiltrating

genome after genome, seeking the bones,

ribs, skull - as ultimate aesthetic template.


Our genetic mixture, life messenger,

who carried us from the beginning -

will carry us into the future, more

children; our story surviving death.

Note from the author
exploring the project

    The Human Genome Project
    – Public versus private
    Gene Patenting
    Blood Poems
        Genomic Co-operation
    Holy-Moley-More God!

Leave a comment
About the author
Make a contribution
Legal note on copyrightHome.htmlNote_from_the_author.htmlExploring_the_project.htmlQuotes.htmlIntroduction.htmlContents.htmlSEQUENCE_ONE.htmlSEQUENCE_TWO.htmlSEQUENCE_THREE.htmlSEQUENCE_FOUR.htmlEthics.htmlPublic_versus_Private.htmlPublic_versus_Private.htmlGene_Patenting.htmlBlood_Poems.htmlGenomic_Co-Operation.htmlOrigins.htmlCosmopolis.htmlSociety.htmlHome_The_Human_Genome.htmlHoly-moley-more_God%21.htmlComment.htmlAbout.htmlContribute.htmlCopyright.htmlshapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1shapeimage_5_link_2shapeimage_5_link_3shapeimage_5_link_4shapeimage_5_link_5shapeimage_5_link_6shapeimage_5_link_7shapeimage_5_link_8shapeimage_5_link_9shapeimage_5_link_10shapeimage_5_link_11shapeimage_5_link_12shapeimage_5_link_13shapeimage_5_link_14shapeimage_5_link_15shapeimage_5_link_16shapeimage_5_link_17shapeimage_5_link_18shapeimage_5_link_19shapeimage_5_link_20shapeimage_5_link_21shapeimage_5_link_22shapeimage_5_link_23shapeimage_5_link_24shapeimage_5_link_25