Elegy for a Land with Amnesia
Before fields, prairie ruled
this land, unmade
by our plows. Standing here,
I remember our history of blades
sinking into topsoil, tearing. Brain of earth,
mind of plant,
natural law tells us you possess neither,
but I dissent: your nodes
of fungal networks and roots
challenge us to believe
in presences below our feet, their leaves
learning. Our blades ripped
into vegetal ganglia: rhizomes,
blind, hairy taproots
living ten feet down, their rootlets
ciphers. Slashed deep,
upturned in spring sun, the dirt
the river down the way, the lake
over the hills, upturned
there too. The carving continued.
Shrinking smaller, these hills
forgot yesterday’s rabbits,
for centuries, words for sunlight
changing by the minute,
other knowledges likewise split
into wriggling remnants,
suffocating under straight, simple rows
of corn seed. Now all
that’s left is a few inches of
your former depths, no longer
able to pass hidden knowledge
in between and across:
histories of lightning strikes known
to neighboring trees, calendars
of light and fire understood by flowers
who watch for smoke
and warnings of locusts a hundred miles away,
eating their way closer.
Epitaph for Lost Rivers
When the glaciers could no longer maintain
their blue nations, your frozen currents
wrestled themselves loose from interior ice,
opened their mouths of headwaters to ocean.
Vanishing, your rapids were all rushing again.
What the cold had paralyzed and built,
your channels undermined with symphonies,
rushing and dripping, your crescendos
dissolving icebergs into chambers like bells.
Before drones could map your tributaries,
you emptied your own hollows, a triumph
in covering your tracks. Know that every empire
will accuse you of lurking waterfalls,
trespassing torrents and miscellaneous crimes
against explorers, including millions lost in maps.
Insurgents of ice, disappearing the moment
you flow as one into the sea, may you rush quick,
reckless and so deep, the cold can never bind you.