Forest Starships

(while wandering in the forest at Indian Point, Ellsworth, Maine)

Bats watched them fall, cupped like tiny palms, 
toward earthen forests. 
They land, eager ears up, 
on twigs and felled branches. 

They nestle between lichen, 
  figure out hyphae, 
  the deep composting web. 

Once homed, aliens echolocate via sonar chirps, 
Blue Jay, 
Hairy Woodpecker, 
Song Sparrow, 
Black-Capped Chickadee, 
Northern Parula, 
the Black-Throated Green Warbler. 

Thin sound beams traverse the woods, establish generations, 
the milky way’s travelers in their new division. 
The trill of me, me, me, a tiny army of green shells, 
parsing old and new ocean kinships. 

And then they wait. 
Wood fibers decay, 
car tires feed carbon black into morning breezes, 
a hint of rock dust, 
rush hour exhaust fumes. 

They stir the pot, assemble new fuel,
toward the day that conflagration will send them,         
spores and all, 
  toward the orbit, 
  beyond it, 
  into nebulae, 
  closer, so much closer 
  into the dark.

Copyright © 2023 by Petra Kuppers. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 31, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.