It took with it
the words that could have described it.
This body, still walking.
The wind must go around it.
Most of us hungry at daybreak, sleepy by dark.
Some slept, one eye open, in water.
Some could trot.
Some of us lived till morning. Some did not.
We once threw
empty soda cans out bus windows,
as all of our kind.
The highways grew prettier.
On one coast, we ate Oregon forests.
On the other, cod banks and bluefish.
Teethed, we were.
Mammals needing to nap,
to leap a little when happy or frightened.
Under the Svalbard ice cap, Carboniferous era coal seams.
A good farmer rotates her crops.
The crops don’t complain. It’s the fate of stalks and forests to vanish.
Last year’s fires: Australia, Portugal, Greece. This year’s: California.
O snail, wrote Issa, climb Fuji slowly, slowly.
Humans: beings directional,
With left and right hands,
left and right feet,
ears that hear lullabies
from one side or the other,
nostrils that know fear or food
from one side or the other.
Beings who sneeze
while following a trail
through wet woods
to whose asters and mosses
two eyes bring stereoscopic depth.
Sometimes, it’s true, the ears mishear:
Sometimes the feet’s direction is only away.
Sometimes the hands misunderstand their task.
They ask their wrists: This?
Fingers with such sensitive nerve ends,
such solicitude holding a chisel or cello,
they thought they were meant to inflict only beauty and kindness.