At this moment, you’re host to about 50 trillion cells, and each of them is really a sentient being in its own right. They all act together as a community, implementing the monumental collaboration you call your body. — Rob Brezsny
It’s hard to grasp that I am a colony
of sentient beings. Not until a few days after
drinking a delicious pineapple jugo at two a.m.
on the outskirts of Riobamba
did I have my first brutal lesson.
Don’t drink the water means
stay away from ice, as well,
but when you are half asleep
and thirsty on a slow bus,
sweet cold juice tastes like ambrosia.
It takes at least two days
for the fierce war to break out:
foreign amoebic armies
to stake their claim on intestines.
I’m sure the warmongers would call
my diarrhea collateral damage.
I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink,
they damn near killed me.
So who is me? It’s not the face
of the woman in the mirror,
who sometimes seems a stranger.
Perhaps it is a shifting constellation of power
that urges me to
feed my gut flora precisely
because when the “good” ones lose their grip,
the “bad” ones summon unspeakable grief
or lethargy, and a craving
for sugar, more salty snacks
to cement their dominion.
That is how “I” know the bad guys
are hoisting their flag, confident
in their eventual overthrow.
Who is it who knows to drink kombucha,
eat kimchi and pickles?
Fermented food feeds joy,
makes me laugh
and loving. And which wise colony
deliberately seeks asparagus
and broccoli, leeks and
cauliflower, the prebiotics
creating harmony and balance?
Close your eyes when you approach
me, and perhaps your colonies
and mine can meet without distraction.
Perhaps we can finally know
who we really are.