The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Monday, 16 January 2017
Lost Species poem 17: Elizabeth Rimmer
Explaining a Few Things to Neruda
You will ask why my poetry
speaks of leaves and green rivers
and that family of goosanders
spinning and diving and drifting downstream
on the ebb tide this rainy morning.
Where are the unemployed? you ask,
the litter, the broken windows,
graffiti curse-words and allegations,
the lost generation, the hope of revolution?
You will ask why my poetry is so pretty,
all those woodlands and winter skies,
when jobs are scarce and art is strangled
and freedom is bought and sold with oil.
In those fields we have no lapwings,
no hares, a stillness of yellow rape,
and wheat after barley after wheat.
The skylark song is quenched in rain.
The moon rises over green absence.
Once there were bitterns in those reeds -
salmon, kingfisher, tufted duck,
children at the village school – all gone.
We wash the guilt of extinction off our hands.
Oh, see, the blood of extinction on our hands!
© Elizabeth Rimmer
This poem was first published in Dark Mountain 3, and then in Elizabeth's second collection The Territory of Rain. www.burnedthumb.co.uk
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- a perspective: figures on US deaths
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