Two Poems

by Nicholas Samaras Issue: Fall 2017 Special Issue on Extinction

All Extinction Is Gradual at First

First, we noticed the trees
beginning to leave us—
shedding their cowls earlier in summer.

We thought:  an off season.
But the same thing happened the next year, too.
Then, the days of spring grew impossibly thin—

we morphed from winters that wouldn’t leave us
to the swelter of summers in staccato.
No season behaved itself.

Weather became a wild animal biting
anything in its path.
We don’t think about the last time

we saw bees swarming around.
We don’t see abundance the way we used to
and only the endangered lists grow longer.

These mornings, I look out onto a browning world
growing chiller faster, while thinking, elephant, tiger.
I move to tell my children about them.

Winter Music at the End of the World

Somewhere, snow is drifting down on you.

Snow like the lightest brush of your hair.

I begin not to mind this anymore.

Absence becomes an almost-sweet music.
Listen, I whisper to my children, can’t you hear it?

The crisp breath in snowfall, the white sky—the souls.

My hands are relaxing.

When I walk and hold the air, I am holding you.

Nicholas Samaras

Nicholas Samaras is from Patmos, Greece (the “Island of the Apocalypse”) and, at the time of the Greek Junta, (“Coup of the Generals”) was brought in exile to be raised in America. He’s lived in Greece, England, Wales, Brussels, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Jerusalem, and thirteen states in the US. He writes from a place of permanent exile. His first book, Hands of the Saddlemaker, won The Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His current book is American Psalm, World Psalm (Ashland Poetry Press, 2014). He is completing a new manuscript of poetry and a memoir of his childhood years lived underground.