Preserving an Ecosystem

hired one summer, me color & three color girls. to cut bushes & saplings to preserve bushes & saplings. who decides which? one of us asked. machetes, clippers, saws. they explained that an invasive species is called that to make the culling easier. gold slanted muddy, idyllic & the heat licked the skin clean off our backs and faces. how strong we got, how well we slept. the old farmhouse was overrun with field mice so every morning & every night we baited nine traps and flung eighteen bodies into the field behind the house we decided wasn’t theirs. how strong we became, how robust our appetites, how much we laughed. how clear we were, learning goodness, how to be good, executing all the deaths that goodness requires.


Copyright © 2024 by Christina Olivares. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 13, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“This poem invites imaginings: that we might rescue ourselves from notions of goodness, that we can enact realities where the living and their worlds flourish, and that our bodies house knowledge that we should and can attune to. Imaginings are tools in the face of a global project of unimaginable state violence. This project—by complicity, if not design—murders the living, over and over again, in order to delimit futurities. This poem arose from my desire to see what lives in me that is connected to this project, and what might live there instead.”
Christina Olivares