Touring the Earth Gallery

Chicks—dead in a once teeming reef
and a mother bird
scouring ghostly coral.

            We dozed, broke our machines.

Extreme heat, intensifying rain
will bring the island states’ collapse,
a fast decline of sea grass.

            Our time period is one of
            glacial isostatic adjustment.

In the third chamber, dust
daily rearranged into pastoral scenes:

            beach strewn with radioactive crustaceans—

                      “The Woman at Repose
                      with the Sea Behind Her.”

Note that it is not the woman’s
figure that is kinetic
but the structures above her:

            fugitive lightning,
                      skeleton of a Dodo bird.

There, where a poet scrapes
her tail across tundra—

            see the sand blowing over
            her last regret.

She dips her quill into a pigment jar,
scrawls her forecast across the clouds:

            neon-blue antlers,
                      cellular squid.

Smacked into glass
that resembled the sky—a sparrow
sleeps on its side in the dirt,

            yellow-feathered, wind-stuffed.

Originally published in Past Simple. Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Foerster. Used with the permission of the author.