The Scientist After the Operation A couple weeks after the operation, he finally can sit outside, under the enormous black walnut tree that hasn’t yet succumbed to a storm although it loses limbs each time. He holds in his lap a biography of Gregor Mendel, the monk who cross-bred plants and discovered genetic inheritance. At one point, he had thought about the church as a career. His mother had suggested it would be a good place for someone with his “proclivities,” a comment so complicated he kept returning to the statement for years trying to determine if it was caring, Machiavellian or something else. He had studied science instead. She doesn’t know he’s sick. They haven’t talked since the wedding when the state finally allowed him and Greg to be a legal couple, and yet, this was when his grandmother began talking openly to him about relationships in the months before her death. Some things skip a generation. Some things never get passed down. He sees Greg glancing out the kitchen window, checking to make sure he’s okay, awake, still alive, and he waves the book to reassure his partner, like a preacher with a bible
About the Author: A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. He has published seven volumes of poetry, most recently Bodies in Motion. His collection This Miraculous Turning was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family.
Image Credit: Edvard Munch “Landowner in the Park” (1903)