Copyright © 2021 by Mariah Bosch. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 17, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
after Linda Hogan
Nothing wants to suffer. Not the wind
as it scrapes itself against the cliff. Not the cliff
being eaten, slowly, by the sea. The earth does not want
to suffer the rough tread of those who do not notice it.
The trees do not want to suffer the axe, nor see
their sisters felled by root rot, mildew, rust.
The coyote in its den. The puma stalking its prey.
These, too, want ease and a tender animal in the mouth
to take their hunger. An offering, one hopes,
made quickly, and without much suffering.
The chair mourns an angry sitter. The lamp, a scalded moth.
A table, the weight of years of argument.
We know this, though we forget.
Not the shark nor the tiger, fanged as they are.
Nor the worm, content in its windowless world
of soil and stone. Not the stone, resting in its riverbed.
The riverbed, gazing up at the stars.
Least of all, the stars, ensconced in their canopy,
looking down at all of us— their offspring—
scattered so far beyond reach.
Copyright © 2021 by Danusha Laméris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 9, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
I am always watching the single heron at its place alone at water, its open eye, one leg lifted or wading without seeming to move. It is a mystery seen but never touched until this morning when I lift it from its side where it lays breathing. I know the beak that could attack, that unwavering golden eye seeing me, my own saying I am harmless, but if I had that eye, nothing would be safe. The claws hold tight my hand, its dun-brown feathers, and the gray so perfectly laid down. The bird is more beautiful than my hand, skin more graceful than my foot, my own dark eye so much more vulnerable, the heart beating quickly, its own language speaking, You could kill me or help me. I know you and I have no choice but to give myself up and in whatever supremacy of this moment, hold your human hand with my bent claws.
From Rounding the Human Corners by Linda Hogan. Copyright © 2008 by Linda Hogan. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.