Imagine miniature cities
Aswarm with bustling centers of activity,
post offices, libraries,
trash collection and recycling,
railroads and architecture,
communication networks, and transport vehicles.
These cities organize themselves from seed cities,
according to a complex negotiation process
that assigns them their duties and location.
Some cities specialize in manufacture and export,
some in signal processing,
some in reclamation or storage,
some in warfare,
and some preserve the heritage of the whole nation
and pass it on.
Each city has no mayor or aldermen or police.
Its multitudinous minions
are self-directed, self-replicating wonders
and each city cooperates with its neighbors
to maintain balance, order,
and peaceful exchange
for the good of the nation.
Some cities pick up and move, patrolling the highways,
some stretch enormous distances to maintain communication,
and some link shields to form the nation’s boundaries.
Some denude themselves and serve the rest
by carrying oxygen to all.
Some live to divide,
some adopt a fixed identity and never reproduce again.
All are altruistic in their focus,
unless the encoded information
in the library becomes corrupted,
or signals snarl and warp the message,
turning self-sacrifice into the endless hunger,
rampage and self-aggrandizement of cancer.
Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Used with permission