Haeckel’s Law of Biogenetics

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny:
the embryo repeats evolution in stages
from fish to chicken, from dog to human.

How can it be denied? Today you are my bunny
and yesterday my chicken with your skinny
chicken legs. Last night you raised your turtle
head to look at us and squirmed quickly back
to fishiness. Haeckel drew the embryos all
alike — fish, salamander, chicken, rabbit —
bits and pieces, some argue, of animals
at random. But can I believe anything else when
your sonogram looked exactly like a seahorse?
Or maybe you looked like a sea monkey —
creatures we saw, your daddy and I, thirty years
ago, in the back of a comic book: top hats and
walking sticks, dressed in tiny tuxedos, the girl
sea monkeys glamorous in sunglasses, straw hats,
pleated skirts with polka-dots. We sent five
dollars in the mail for our exotic pets, but
the package of krill from Sea Monkeys, Inc.
sadly disappointed us. Maeve, you could have
been a water bear, peanut worm, any phylum
at all — nematode, mollusk, arthropod — but you
were always your mama’s egg, your daddy’s
sperm, zygote, embryo, fetus, granddaughter.

for Maeve

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