stdnt sks                  
             hw s th flyng thng splld?


tchr sys        
             ll th sft lttrs hv blwn ff
             spll brd
                                                                            lk         brd


tchr tlls stry
                        frst mnfst dstny
                        th bffl wr hntd nd skltns stckd
                        th ntv ppl wr pshd n slghtrd
             tk wht th y cn s

             thn crps plntd nd plntd nd plntd nd plntd
             thn dry nd ht nd dry nd cld nd dry nd ht
                        thn rbbts nd rbbts nd rbbts
                        thn mn clbbd ll th rbbts
             pld nd lghd
                        vrythng brnd
                        ll th ppl thrstd nd th lnd crckd
                        brd jst lft bfr snrs nd snst
                        brd dsspprd
                        thn nsts mpty

stdnt sks       
             wht hppnd t brd?


tchr sys         
             brd sys n brnchs t prch nd crps cllps nd hrvsts nd n wrms s hngry
             brd sys           spk sky                        spk
                                                                                                 drk spk                      
             ll thngs trnd psdwn
                                                                           thn blw wy
             nd trnds nd hrrcns nd wrs nd dss
             nd nthng lvng

stdnt sks       
             dd brd knw?


tchr nswrs    
             brd knw          trd t spk
                                      thrt splt

             brd ndd wtr


stdnt sys       
             whts wtr?


Copyright © 2020 by Anthony Cody. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 2, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Last year, I spent an afternoon drawing with my niece and nephews. Before cleaning up, I asked my younger nephew to write the name of the animals he drew. Atop the winged creature he hurriedly wrote brd. This brd challenged me to re-examine the poems I was working on, poems centered around The Dust Bowl, whiteness, and climate collapse in post-truth, late stage capitalism. The more I wrote, the more unsure I became around what future mammal, or animal, the voice summoned. I became more concerned with the fear, exhaustion, and deep sense of loss that arrives within me each time the poem is read aloud. Ultimately, brd continues to ask, what will remain?”
Anthony Cody