Welcome to the Natural World by John Grey

Welcome to the Natural World

Shrunken heart, in a tiny kitchen,
you’re long past the season of your youth,
You find your solace only in the obituaries,
or the cold that has everyone bundled up
and not just you and your pacemaker.
Hardened arteries, blotchy skin—
how can this ever be the way forward.
No encouragement from your veins.
It’s all they can do to make it to your surfaces.

Your body struggles to the parlor.
Like it or not, the only action is on the television.
Your senses gravitate to nature programs.
A lioness stalks a herd of zebra.
You sympathize with that black and white striped horse.
But it’s the feline that strikes the jealous note.
If only you could move with such cruel elegance.
But your bones creak like snapping chalk.
And you cough like an old charcoal fire.
Your prey would feel your presence from a mile away.

The camera moves in for a close-up
as the lioness leaps upon the zebra’s back.
It’s an uneven contest.
Of course, in your life, contests always are.
Then there’s scenes of the male and two cubs
feasting on the kill.
You’d look away but your neck muscles forbid.
Up next is the mandatory scene
of that lazy full-maned lout mounting
the one that’s done all the work.
A smile of recognition crosses your lips.

You doze a little as the ad for dish washing liquid
scours out all the blood.
And another for double-ply trash bags
provides room and heft enough to stuff all of the bones.
Next up is a loud blurb on the benefits
of a new wonder pain pill.
What’s the point, you mutter.
You’re with the zebra on this one.

by John Grey

Editor’s Note: Skillful metaphors draw the reader into this poem even as the second person point-of-view mirrors the central image of a documentary program, and we empathize from our distant screen, joints aching.