Sunday, August 15, 2021

Irate Rock

Roadside rodents, owl, and hummingbird.
Itemizing words like those can lead
To certain expectations, so let’s

Get them out of the way first—a drive
Begun by starlight flashed the headlights
On a large owl hunting in the cliffs.

Separately, tiny voles and other
Rodents too small to identify
Appeared, scurrying across the road.

Some bats, of course, but later, at dawn
More strikingly, a drab hummingbird
Hovered by the window of the car.

So, there’s that. Of all phenomena
An organism with words might note
On an early morning drive up slope,

Why would those, more than, say, the oil stains
On the asphalt, the acrid odor
Of a distant scrub fire on the air,

The countless flittering whitish moths,
Be the ones most likely to wind up
In a poem, or this poem, anyway?

Because lives at the scale of your eyes,
Your human eyes, that aren’t human lives,
Your pets or other domesticates,

Increasingly, are rare. Don’t suppose
This applies to all of life, all kinds.
Sea snot and algae are doing fine.

Microbiota feast everywhere.
Look. You know how the moons of Saturn
Sweep clear bands within those famous rings,

Right? Well, that’s what you’re doing on Earth.
The runaway outbreak of humans
Bowls around, gathering and clearing

Out a swath of midsized and larger
Species, dragging some small in the wake.
You don’t see owls, voles, bats, hummingbirds

As often as your ancestors would,
To say nothing of whales and dragons.
So you can’t help it. They feel special,

As you coast in your magical shell
Of polycarbon technologies
Undreamt of by all those ancestors,

For whom midsized animals mostly
Served as backdrops common as asphalt
Is to you. You coast, and your headlights

Clear another thin line through that swath
Of the lost, and you dream and write poems,
Stupid, destructive, beautiful moon.

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