(On 1 June 2017, the USA decided to exit the Paris Climate Accord)
Two-inch shoots of corn lift from the cracked mud
of fields that were deep in flood a week ago.
Life doesn’t stop. This is comfort or warning or both.
Beside the trail, the water for long stretches
is suffused, almost too washed in light to see
as it soughs and blurs over stone
because it is noon and the sun comes straight
down, soaking the ravine, rather than slanting in
and pouring it full of shadows, as it will later.
Water-striders skitter and pause, skitter
and pause, dimpling the surface, and frogs
kick like mad as they swim below them.
I am here, too. I sit above the waterfall, don’t think
but watch a blacksnake, this beautiful genius,
insinuating up the middle of the stream, winding
against the current, from far down, a bit of dark rope
or thread, a moving brush stroke suspended
in the invisible flow, above his shadow twisting
like smoke on the pale-yellowish slate of the stream bed,
curling as he sways through patches
of shade and sun, up to the falls, and out
onto a ledge beside the foam to stretch and bask.
I go home, and a grey catbird hops along the porch rail.
James Owens‘s most recent collection of poems is Mortalia (FutureCycle Press, 2015). His poems, stories, and translations appear widely in literary journals, including publications in The Fourth River, Kestrel, Tule Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Southword. He earned an MFA at the University of Alabama and lives in Indiana and northern Ontario.