I don’t want to write another nature poem but I can no longer look at TV news and I have to look somewhere by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

I don’t want to write another nature poem but I can no longer look at TV news
and I have to look somewhere

Lozenges of hay bales dry in the field, now a bed of nails underfoot
I write but how will that help put a bowl of food before a hungry child I saw on CNN
when my deer and skunks eat better than some citizens of Earth,
and when the compost bowl is full of scraps, peels, heels, rinds
too slightly bruised to eat, and they rain on the compost pile,
do the raccoons realize their luck, why there can be six little ones
rolling out of the ground cover like tiny clowns as this land tries to look
like a forest so the deer can choose between red bud and rose of Sharon

but some citizens have only bad options: poison oak or poison ivy, trying
to make senselessness into sense, last week one junco dying at the birdbath
tendered me more than a nation suffering inside a flat screen, so I find it easier
and less dehumanizing to spend hours training the wisteria leader to curl
around the porch lattice and understand that larch hold up two fingers
when they thirst, oh my grandmother’s roses got better care than immigrants,
dressed them in tar paper against the cold and fed them all summer
they way her grandmother fed hobos during the Depression, but that generous spirit dwindles;

baby crows squawk in the shallows, our reflection in the little lake is really its mucky bottom,
life smothered down there for lack of air, but as long as sun sparkles from little white caps
on summer days, we can forget the other worlds, the woods persist though elms fall
and bees are all but extinct then what will sweeten our smug coffees
and should they be easier to swallow or should we drink bitterly on our patios,
some shrug toward the shriveling world, still so surprising with damsel flies,
toads, lightning bugs and volunteers.

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Editor’s note: Guilt and despair inhabit the voice of the narrator because survival sometimes means looking away (but not forgetting).

[Apologies for the double post: I missed the title in the email. Bad editor!]