Thin caps bandage our DNA, this morning’s
science news explains. Chromosomes only
replicate in the middle. With each division,
telomeres shrivel until the unclothed genome dies.

It’s before seven, and I’m unsettled by the
end replication problem. At the molecular
level, stress shortens lifespan. A tough job
claws at our nucleotide’s fine gauze.

Even sitting too long wears down this cushion.
You’ve been at work since dawn, shoulders
hunched toward attrition, cortisol rippling in
analog waves. The antidote is a bandaid hour:

Walk at lunch. Get sun. Eat greens that won’t
raise insulin. Your break lasts thirty minutes,
darting through downpour for a wilted sandwich
in plastic adhesive, to devour at the office.

Waiting at traffic corners for electric men
to flip to ticking hands, the membrane
of your umbrella shielding you from drizzle,
its tissue puckering in the dash to beat zeros.

At your door, spokes resist closing, metal elbows
now decrepit, knocking seconds off schedules.
This is your remedy, what you clutch adrenal
from deadlines segmenting the day.

My love, how will these pinched minutes delay
the ends’ unfastening? Your hour is not a crutch
prolonging life’s reach, its final split and hobble.
It’s where you break apart from nothing much.

Author’s Bio

Emily Osborne is the author of Biometrical (Anstruther Press, 2018) and winner of The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award for Poetry 2018. Her poetry and translations have appeared in CV2, LRC, The Maynard, Polyglot, and elsewhere. She earned a PhD in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature from the University of Cambridge.