I lie awake wondering if salvation
can befall my planet – I'm as haunted
by the question as a Pentecostal supplicant
awaiting some death-bed revelation.
The universe I eerily quiet
As I review solemn lists of species
Soon-to-vanish. My head nods in rhythm
but sorrowful passings yield no sleep.
At earth's bottom, a state size chunk
of ice sighs into wind then breaks away.
I imagine it sounds like cymbals clashing,
crashing, thrashing in the dark waters.
It seems as if everyone is too stunned
by inevitable goodbyes to try to stop
our downward arc. Sometimes there is beauty
in final departures, distracting us
Like the incandescence of fire
before grey ash settles over the forest
or waterways thickened with phosphorescent
algal blooms fanning out like liquid rainbows.
Even where natural colors have slimmed down
like hollowed coral reefs as bleached as
an O'Keefe skull, we still search for hints of stars
hoping signs of inexorable exit are premature.
Desert floors crack beneath relentless suns.
As they shrink down, I think of clay ovens
baking hot winds into sturdy vessels
where bold imaginings of rain might form.
Land and sea mourn their islands
who disappear like runaway children.
One, in Louisiana, seen from above, looks like
old lace curtains decomposing in unforgiving light.
Little remains for native denizens to fish or hunt.
Yet another story of stolen tribal lands
is told, even as they tend to the
waterlogged graves of their ancestors.
Soon enough, flood waters rise up
over my head. Houses, cars, trees,
light poles, refrigerators all float past
faster than anyone can swim.
No wonder sleep is difficult.
As dreams of territorial erasures vie
with other losses for our attention,
my body heat creates new climate zones.
"HOT FLASHES" appears in Volume 2 of the highly acclaimed anthology series: AWAKE IN THE WORLD, published by Riverfeet Press.