The Virus

Life, but not it’s own,

borrowed from another.

A shady spot – chemical or life form or just entirely



Tiny, tiny thing

(millions on a pinhead, for scale).

Mere genes in a protein coat

coming in an array of beautiful shapes and flavors,

all so the virus can pop onto a cell and then enter

without knocking.


Once inside, it commandeers and reprograms the cell’s own hard-earned organelles

making them, eager slaves that they are, do its dirty work:

Copy down the viral recipe. Then use it to make more of the one thing the host cell does not want:


Even the ingredients called for belong to the cell:

nucleotides, enzymes, ribosomes, tRNAs, amino acids, DNA mixers, energy.

The virus comes empty handed

and requires everything.


Suddenly, spontaneously, viral bits begin to self-assemble inside the host cell

poor, poor host that it is

And then, hundreds or thousands of the new viruses leave,


usually destroying their host in the process.

The damage is not yet finished

for the new viruses move on to the host cell’s neighbors,

friends and family,

and take them over, too.


virus 2.jpg

Our defenses are strong,

but so are viruses.

That one flu – remember – killed 40 million of us in the span of

two years.


But sometimes we can use viruses,

harness their power

to kill off bacterial infections.

Use the enemy to fight another enemy,

and hope it doesn’t then come for us.