Soldiers collect & number: pigment, hair, jade, roasted meat, timber, cum. The enemy’s flute; the face of an enemy as he holds his young; the enemy’s face the moment it’s harmed. The woods are a class in what they can take. The country is fat. We eat from its side.
Nesting, the turtle seems to be crying even though she is simply secreting
her salt. Her dozens bud limbs inside amniotic pillows
as she leaves every egg in a cup of sand the size of her body,
shaped like a tilting teardrop — and both cryings
are mentioned by scientists. My niece Eve is startle-eyed when you feed her
avocado and when you feed her sweet potato. She lives mouth first:
she would eat the sidewalk and piano, the symmetrical petals of the Bradford pear,
as if she could learn which parts of the world are made and how,
and yesterday she put her mouth on the image of her own face
in the mirror. Larkin says what will survive of us is love,
but the scientists say that the end of the decay-chain is lead and uranium and after that,
plastics. Just now the zooplankton are swallowing micro pearls of plastic
and the sea is aflame with waste caught in the moon’s light.
Here is the darkening hour and here, the shore, as she droplets her eggs,
bright as ping pong balls, into the sand. She can’t find the spot.
The beach is saltined with lights, neoned with spectacular
globes of light, a dozen moons instead of the one moon. Still, she lets them go
and one month later, tiny turtles hatch. They seem groggy,
carrying their houses of bone and cartilage to the ocean,
scrambling toward the horizon alongside the earth’s magnetic field.
Less than one percent of the hatchlings make it past
the seagulls and crabs, so Noah spent a summer dashing them to the water.
But my poem is not about the moment when a bird dove and bore
into the underflesh and into Noah’s memory.
My poem is about how we are gathered around Eve
in the kitchen as she eats a fruit she has never tried before
and each newness in the world
stops the world’s ending in its tracks.