Perhaps muse on the possibility
That we are never better than the world,
Nor the world any more moral than us—
Although whatever we mean by better
Or more moral may be unique to us,
The odd forms of violence among us.
Perhaps because we can never accept
Morality smoothly distributed—
Any more than trees can negotiate
Perpetually equal shares of sunlight,
Despite intertwined camaraderie,
Each twig so dependent on a forest—
Moral inequality being how
We allocate and justify our lives,
Especially our most successful thefts,
Our most violent appropriations,
We have to assess our surroundings’ worth
Compared to our sense of ourselves—better?
Worse? Mother Nature as “an old woman
Who has some nasty habits”? Our species
As noble overseers put here by God,
Or rapacious changelings who don’t belong?
Sometimes we draw up the unbalanced sides
So that some of us can be natural
And that nature can be good, while others
Most unnatural, most foul, must be bad—
Although it’s curious how we then paint
The wicked among us as venomous
Or verminous, inhabitants of bogs.
As we divide ourselves, so we divide
Our world, and, as our world, divide ourselves.
This mode may be ours. The pattern’s the world’s.