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Wednesday, October 28, 2020


 by Catherine Gonick

            after the hypotheses of James Lovelock

The world is broken, the body of the single, gigantic animal
we have become is breaking, we don’t have much time.
The ancient organs and elements hold—
earth is still surface, water deeps, fire burns
in the center, and black space is encircled
by a ribbon of air—but it’s all sick
with wildfire fever, the atmosphere fills
with phlegm, the oceans with pharma,
indigestible soil starves and infects
flora and fauna, both wild and domestic,
our hearts ache, livers swell, lungs become fibrotic,
oxygen fails. Our science was too romantic,
our technology too rude. We looked out
as far as we were able but forgot
the unexpected we couldn’t measure.
The earth would do just fine without us,
and the other animals won’t care, unless perhaps
our dogs. Some of us always knew
we’d end badly, at the end of some endless
kalpa, the death of the last of five suns
carried by snakes of fire. But we expected
a respectable cosmic decline, not this mess
we designed. And yes, science has been
a disappointment. Who wanted to know
the limits of our filtering senses? How much further
we’d have to take our tools, if we can? Intelligence
would be better if purely artificial. Upright posture
and hands made us always want to leave home.

Catherine Gonick’s poetry has appeared in literary magazines including Notre Dame Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly,  Lightwood, Forge, Sukoon, and PoetsArtists, and in anthologies including in plein air, Grabbed, and forthcoming, Poemas Antivirus. She was awarded the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Prize for Poetry and was a finalist in the National Ten-Minute Play Contest with the Actors Theatre of Louisville. She is part of a company that fights the effects of climate change.