June 29 2019
It’s a slow rot—
A decay with many geneses.
There are so many pinpricks
where life seeps
out — pores
in a death mask —
that even the most scrupulous accountant,
or even an infinitely patient scientist giving
the whole scope of her life to this task could not
It’s a lot, is what I’m saying.
But it’s not a rot, is it?
It’s not one life giving itself to the
flourishing of millions
It’s the opposite of that.
And the product of this
is not a cycling of more and more life,
in and out upon itself.
It’s a cyclone whose winds pull apart the cells
and molecules that
animate life to begin with.
Pulls them too far apart from one another,
beyond their many event horizons,
and unleashes fire that transforms
charred life into more charred life
— a cauterizing of wombs and skin —
ashes to ashes, charcoal to charcoal.
It’s a clotting in those channels
where for 3,000,000,000 odd years
That’s the anti-rot.
And, also, it’s not slow. It’s not slow
It’s the fastest thing there is.
Faster than superheroes.
Faster than life.
I take it back. It’s not
a slow rot.
It’s a fast anti-rot and it’s coming to
cleave us all.
When they made the aural background outside
a nylon tent inside
a white-pine-copper-beech cathedral and became
a net wove of sound holding
up all else:
I didn’t realize then how much I needed
When they still harmonized with the peepers
and the bullfrogs,
I could not have guessed
how their slow — rather, rapid, immediate,
sudden — descent
would so perfectly, proportionately, align —
inversely, of course —
with the rising howl emanating from a
solid molten core of rage,
of fury raised from helpless pity
How is it, I wonder now and did not occur
to me then,
that the scraping of insect legs and
the guttural grunt of amphibian throats
— mostly occurring for the same reasons —
could be part of the complex of things
holding at bay the absolute
loss of possibility for redemption
I see in my own
species and the degenerative alienation
that accompanies such a death of faith.
And on those rare moments I bring it up,
out of the blue,
cut in and give up my standing,
the same silence, the same
exact silence mirrored there with people.
And that’s fine. This quiet
is just the dismal prologue. We’re just
getting the subtle synopsis,
previewing the banal silence that now
will surely pervade many
In those millions of years there may not be
chirps and croaks
(the timer on my smartphone just chirped in
sad mockery of crickets and until
I press the button will do so
until the battery depletes
until the mechanism wears out until
the lithium degrades until the aluminum
rusts until the pieces fall apart)
but there will still fill this space
a constant background noise — not a net
but umbrella is maybe what it is —
over everything, the sound
of waves crashing together, of rocks
grinding together, and
wind crying through clasping dust.