Neural Folds

For John Teton

The frog embryos spin,
a million tiny skaters
in bright sacs. Soon
neurons will web each body,
spreading fine mesh
through muscle and skin.

First, the neural folds
must fuse. Crest cells
edging a moon-bald field
reach with bulbous arms;
flowing inward, they move
toward each other.

And when they finally meet,
melding together, cell by cell,
there is no explanation:
they know who they are.
I can almost hear them
yammering in strange tongues.

Lucille Lang Day

From Self-Portrait with Hand Microscope,
first published in The New York Times Magazine