Ice Would Suffice

How swift, how far
the sea
carries a body from shore.

Empires fail, species are lost,
spotted frogs
and tufted puffins forsaken.

After eons of fauna and flora, hominids have stood
for mere years
baffled brains atop battered shoulders.

In a murky blanket of heavens
an icy planet
made of diamond spins.

Our sun winks like the star
it was
billions of years ago, without ambition.

We bury bodies in shallow dirt, heedless of lacking space
or how long
our makeshift planet will host us.


Copyright © 2017 by Risa Denenberg. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The poem came to me as somewhat of a confluence when I came across the Frost poem and heard Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Who By Fire?’ on the same day. It also owes something to Doris Lessing’s The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, in which all life on the planet, including sentient beings, becomes extinct during an ice age. I don’t have any trouble accepting that human life on our planet is a finite phenomenon. It helps me to cope with our transient difficulties.”
—Risa Denenberg