Joel Hans’ “Protenean Amoebae”


The last hundred protenean amoebae are gracing cell walls in a patina of water atop a rock. Sunlight pours into them and they quiver. Their home shrinks in the heat.

They vote on their futures, whether to stay or go elsewhere. Whether they should grow into different bodies, try to survive.

Yeas and nays are tallied up with pseudopods. When they decide to go, there is the quietest of cheers that can’t be heard because they don’t have voices or ears. But they cheer nonetheless in cellular scales.

The protenean amoebae push to the edge of the patina of water and they push. They struggle against the edge of the water, barrier to the end of their world. They scream. They make waves against their boundaries. At a certain smallness every sound is a tidal wave but it is never enough. Sunlight pours across their rock. Sunlight takes the water and then takes their skins.

Word is that every sound ever made lingers in vignette upon the physical world.

Lingering in ripples in sand, striations in rock, patterns of far-off breezes.

Word is that if one screams, the universe has to hear, even if it never listens.

Hearing in skin of future bodies, networks of leaves in lonely trees.

Word is that the last hundred protenean amoebae are still screaming.