Home Science and Nature Poem: ‘Vaulted Seeds,’ after the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Poem: ‘Vaulted Seeds,’ after the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

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Science in meter and verse

Credit: J. Berger/BRG/Global Crop Diversity Trust
Hoarded at the heart of an Arctic mountain,

within an archipelago of snow: an ark of seeds.

Cocooned against soil, nuclear bodies hunker

and wait for some future hungerscape. A gathering

of crops, varied faces folded into foil,

shuttered from the earth. Lentil, dark and round

and pebble-smooth. Barley’s slender husk of an eye.

Each wrinkled chickpea the embryonic head of a bird.

Sister seeds, in Aleppo, shelter abandoned

in the rubble of war. The snow is a silence

except for how the seeds call out to one

another across landmasses that shift and warm.

Svalbard reindeer swivel their ears to listen.

Foxes pause ghostlike on the permafrost.With one

quadrate eye, the vault reflects a frigid blue sea.

Ringed seals bob and dive among the glassy floes.

The vault’s stone hull juts like a shipwreck in the drifted

ice while polar bears chuff and lumber past the door.

Inside, thousands upon thousands of promises to feed

what may remain. Doomsday, its other name.

Because we’ve already planted what’s to come.

Edited by Dava Sobel

This article was originally published with the title “Vaulted Seeds” in Scientific American 326, 6, 24 (June 2022)

doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0622-24

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)Brittney Corrigan’s four published poetry collections are Navigation, 40 Weeks, Breaking and Daughters. A new collection, Solastalgia, is due out next year. Credit: Nick Higgins

Source : Scientific American

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