Thursday, October 20, 2022

But No One Writes Back

Once, overlooking mud flats,
North tip of New Zealand’s South
Island, they watched the godwits,

Those not-too-spectacular
Looking wading birds feeding.
Having just learned that godwits

Repeat the longest nonstop
Migration of a land bird,
Year after year after year,

Alaska to New Zealand
And back, half a year later,
They wanted to look at them.

There on the peaceful mudflats,
They seemed unremarkable
To novices, excited

Only by what they’d been told
These feathered pipettes on stilts
Could do and would do again.

Some wonder is amazement.
Some wonder is bafflement.
They’d forget the name, godwit,

Until fifteen years later,
When someone would bring it up
In the other hemisphere,

By way of conversation.
Episodic memory
Can be a lonely flyer,

Carried along in a cloud
Of neurons, sending pulses,
Waiting to catch the wind back.

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