blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
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Ready to give up, ready to be
a burnt offering on the altar of despair,
I catch, out the corner of my eye,
the slow, steady rowing of the barred owl
into the shadows of a forest I want to rescue
from the mindless sprawl
we call raising the standard of living
or progress
                   The self advances, 
the ten thousand things take off—

leaving me slouched in a chair whose wood
was once the fine-grained disruption of a tree
felled in the rain forest. Closing my eyes,
I watch as the tree is toppled and dragged off,
as its absence lets in light, and a type of bryophyte
withdraws, the orchid with the yellow throat
following after—
                               and then the long-beaked birds
with red wings and blue tail feathers
oar away into the also retreating mists.

I keep watching as lampblack birds
with innocent orange feet swarm in
to rake for beetles,
as the grind and burr of distant machinery
grows thicker, and a team of botanists,
come for research and profit, digs out
the last of the shade sorrel,
christening it “the flowering decibel.”

Hmpf, sniffs Conjure and thumps my breastbone.

So you want to save the forest? Let it
save you first—
                        and she pours me a cup of tea
I must sweeten with the honey of attention.
Too many mornings, she’s seen me
splash a scald of it into a travel mug,
take a gulp, burn my throat—
living on headlines, crisis by crisis,
the daily outrage whose only profit is loss.

With her hand now gentle on my hair,
smoothing it, she hums,
                                       and the humming draws me
home to local sunlight and a fire of goldfinch
in the forsythia, to the waterfall
rush of notes the wood thrush
spills into the deep woods,
to the chortling of wild turkeys in the beeches—
I remember their wonky blue face paint
and scarlet wattles, the fan of tail feathers
unfurling, and the proud mating strut,
that self-assured 

I’m-here-now-take-me march of survival. 

I drink the tea. The earth breathes in and out with us. 
If you are violent to a cup of tea,
Conjure whispers, 
                              how can you save yourself or any living thing?  end

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