My friend at Thanksgiving says it’s already
happened. By it, she means the apocalypse –
the end come and gone but we just haven’t
felt it yet, like a body that doesn’t know it’s
dead because the bones of the ear are the last to go,
sound still tickling the brain like wind chimes forgotten
in a dead tree. And I don’t know what to say
but imagine saffron monks screaming
into the ears of their recently
deceased and wonder what they might say, maybe
something like, It’s already happened!
or if they might also yell into dead
trees and what words I should belt out
to the beetle-killed hemlocks that barb
the mountains here, so many the canopy
creaks and sways the trail with a whole forest of little
more than widow-makers nowadays. And someone says,
Well, hell, pass the bourbon then, and I do, marvelling
how easy it is to pick up the bottle with my possibly
zombie arm, wondering if it’s true – that we’re living
off fumes, maybe already gone, but how would I know
because still I hear
the clink of soup spoons, the tink of the oven
working its heat around a turkey that is not
turkey at all but a miracle of manufactured protein
made to make hippies like us feel better about giving thanks
without dead flesh in our mouths but still enough to
give us that flesh feel – that pleasurable snap-back, craving as we do
the meaty fight real muscle puts up when chewed, because
we are animals who don’t want to be animals but still enjoy
the vestige of animal like the foetal dream of a tail
or water-breathing gills once slit into our unborn necks.
It’s already over, she adds. The shortages haven’t yet come, but they
will. And so the table grows quiet, and I hear all our little mouth
sounds, a soft-smacking not unlike the wet popping of fish
suffocating in the middle of I-40 month before last
when yet another hurricane
receded, the floodwaters leaving behind a city of underwater
life stranded miles from their home, a stench
that had to be blasted with even more water
from a fire hose. The sound grew until
someone asks, Is that fake bird ready yet? and I get up to
check, thinking of meat again, of starving
polar bears happy to sink their teeth into
dolphins fooled by a warm current gone
wrong; or how I read that octopus were numerous
enough to climb out of the sea and drip from trees
back when Homer was alive, but last summer in Greece, all I saw
were their severed legs drying on laundry lines.
I can hardly swallow
any of it, so my brain takes me
somewhere I can go – to a small thing I can
manage – a quiet panic over
persimmons, because petty as I am, I fret if
next month I won’t be able to find them
at the store. It doesn’t make sense other than to say
I never paid much attention to those little edible
carnelians, those dusty Ozark tomatoes, but now that
they might be gone, I’m suddenly homesick
for that stubborn country-girl produce, hard as they are
at first, always tongue-parchingly tannic long before
finally giving in and turning themselves into a slick kiss
of sweet hiding under that thick skin.
There’s little else I can do, dead as I
might be, so I vow come December to fill my cart with them
once more, no matter how much they cost. I vow to do what
humans do – to greedily stuff into my body
the thing I want most to remember – and I will eat and eat and
eat them, making myself sick, testing
with my tongue the knowledge of fruit
that takes its sweet time to ripen, sometimes taking
months after it was yanked from its branch as if
it could live forever on the memory
of what it once was.
King Lear is dead
but miracles are still
likely to come.
The long march has halted,
the heart has fallen out
of the mouth of the city
and lies, like a small bloody animal,
at the crack of the curb.
Miracles are still possible.
Rain is falling on the homeless’
tent city. Should we weep now,
or have we missed the cue
The King’s crown of weeds
has been tossed in the air
like a bride’s flower wreath.
He opens his eyes,
want to come.
The tide rises, the tide falls like breath.
Miracles are still likely.
Interconnection of the earthly and the cosmos. Rusty auto parts and a perfume bottle found in an urban stream seem to distill the lowly into an airy state in the heavens. In the photograph my daughter, who is young enough not to fully grasp what we have done to our environment, uses a broken beer bottle as a chalice to perform a ritual known only to her and the stream.
Jordan Tierney wanders forgotten and abused tracts of urban wilderness. Based in Baltimore, USA she carves found wood and assembles flotsam and jetsam into poems about their overlooked beauty. Jordan loves when her artwork provides a transformational experience suggesting the one she had out in the woods while creating it. jordantierney.com