"Letter to Genetically Engineered Super Humans"

by Fred Dings

You are the children of our fantasies of form,
our wish to carve a larger cave of light,
our dream to perfect the ladder of genes and climb

its rungs to the height of human possibility,
to a stellar efflorescence beyond all injury
and disease, with minds as bright as newborn suns

and bodies which leave our breathless mirrors stunned.
Forgive us if we failed to imagine your loneliness
in the midst of all that ordinary excellence,

if we failed to understand how much harder
it would be to build the bridge of love
between such splendid selves, to find the path

of humility among the labyrinth of your abilities,
to be refreshed without forgetfulness,
and weave community without the threads of need.

Forgive us if you must re-invent our flaws
because we failed to guess the simple fact
that the best lives must be less than perfect.

The poem read during the program originally is part of Eulogy for a Private Man. The collection of poems was published by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press in 1999, and is reprinted with their permission.

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is director of Bioethics at the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University, and a scholar in the Jewish Talmud and ancient rabbinic texts.