Poetry Journal

Issues / Volume 5 Issue 1 , July 2015


10,000,000 Years Ago We Take to Drink

Carol Jenkins

  Ethanol, un-metabolisable—hardly wise 
  for animals eluding carnivores or swinging 
  on lianas—fermented in fruit that dangled, 
  toxic, from low boughs, or fell in gelid sacks 
  from likely trees, and as forests shrunk, even less 
  of these, leaving rotters, a niche supply 
  of punch-drunk fruit. Then that singular 
  mutation, a jackpot forty-fold activation 
  of alcohol dehydrogenase, so it leans its elbow 
  on the bar, my shout, this one’s on me,
  and sip by nip, our improved enzyme rendered 
  meals from poteens of fallen fruit and now turns 
  them into party favours, analgesics, the nectar 
  of the gods, hilarity, not to say next-day-at-sea, 
  and addiction.  Some say wine is evidence 
  that gods exist and want us to be happy, 
  but this is proof that inside us all there is 
  a screw that winds the cork from every bottle.