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:
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:
Smacked into glass
that resembled the sky—a sparrow
sleeps on its side in the dirt,
Originally published in Past Simple. Copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Foerster. Used with the permission of the author.