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Evolution


Music came first, an unbroken pure tone

passing over the smooth surface of clay, how long

no way to count, until ripples

ridged the clay, and the music found them

and began to rise and fall, billions and billions

of times (call them years), until buds

extended, became digits, pushing

up from the clay, wriggling,

swaying side to side, all moving together,

a metronome, marking the rising

and falling tones, billions upon billions,

highs growing infinitesimally

further from lows. Then four

fingers, as they had become, held back

behind the tone, waved response

to another four, neither a hand yet.


The waving fingers began to break

ranks, waggle to each other. New patterns

made for shifting air currents; the tones changed,

more rapidly now, a million years, now half

a million, more, less, with rapid

irregularity, and the second group

of fingers began to tap the clay

they had sprung from. The tones absorbed the taps

for a while, then moved with them,

propelled by them, pushed this way and that,

and rhythms came into the void,

four fingers tapping, four dancing,

contrapuntal, infinite variety

which needs nothing more than itself, and could have

gone on forever, but that the fingers

pushed further out of the clay, a new nub appeared,

became a thumb, and pushed against the fingers

sounding a snap in air: a beat.


The dancing fingers loved

the beat; they moved with it,

around it, against it. Mostly,

it propelled them, they stretched upward,

pushing through clay, they became hands,

then wrists, then arms that jointed, and would have

jointed again, but that shoulders

grew out and stopped them. But the beat

went on, and the hands were drawn

back to the clay, the music pulsed

around them, the notes were blue,

the rhythms syncopated, and this

was happening all over now, shoulders,

arms, hands from the clay,

back to it, and the clay growing soft

and malleable where the hands

and the music touched it. The hands

began modeling, some pulling it up,

and up, some making finger-width grooves, fingers

probing inside the grooves, until the music

and the hands and the new shapes

made the clay moist and fecund, and

algae grew, and sporangia.




Tad Richards