Shining the Death Star
From Badger, with Love
Sweet Ferret, what distends your upper lip?
What porcupine democracy invades
the strict hierarchy of your body’s cells
and pricks the sweet synapses of your thought?
Our ozone sweater’s pockets have worn thin
and filter fewer rays than in the day
our genes adapted, flourished, settled down.
The cows, you know, no longer see so well
and all of us, all mammals, suffer strokes
we take at first for genius then for what
it really is: mutation. It is but
a foretaste of the blitz we can expect
now that our cousin, man, has made the tools
to loose the solar winds upon this globe
that we depend on for our meals and dens.
Some days I feel the atmosphere condense
but yesterday I watched some clouds escape:
not climb the hills and patter down as rain,
but get away from gravity and go,
that way that water once departed Mars.
The desert crawlers grow in number now;
the hotter days make their antennas click
receiving word that soon their time will come.
Their prophets sense our mammal reign must end
perhaps, dear Ferret, while we’re still alive.
Don’t try to speak. I see it gives you pain.
and nothing you might say will stay the flight
of clouds and mammal dreams into the night.
Dear Badger, pay attention. Look around.
Not only mammals suffer under man,
the monster mammal. Logically he leads
himself and us and others to destruction.
Man’s chemicals, the mixtures he produces,
affect not only us but all who breathe:
the Dover sole gets eyes along its spine
from toxic waste from sink to shining sea.
The men who fed on bison tongues they shot
(the buffaloes) from railroad cars have bred
their own offspring who sponge the seas and catch
more albatrosses than those birds lay eggs.
Forty thousand drowned birds every year,
discarded as the Japanese hunt tuna.
Who? An island folk with high-tech boats,
all bad; no worse than other sorts of man
except in their efficiency. The Poles,
the Anglos, Germans… all the dire pale folk;
the Africans; the everyone’s. All bad,
because they’re human: every human adds
his elbow grease to sanding Gaia’s crust.
Each human man and woman hurts the earth
and cleverly or stupidly consumes
all other creatures’ habitats. Today,
this bright September day, I rose at dawn
and watched the geese assemble on the lake.
Oh, Badger, what a sight! They sallied forth.
It broke my heart when all the flock wheeled North.
Sweet Ferret. I was digging, but I heard
some voles discussing how the geese had flown
the wrong direction, how they’ll surely die
migrating to the winter storms this year.
The oldest vole had called it suicide
and said the geese had voted to expire
to warn us that we must avoid man.
I myself think birds can’t think ahead.
I think their compasses no longer work
since people built those wind farms by the sea.
The geese will see once airborne and adjust
their course in time. You’re much too gloomy. Yes,
the more I think about your sour attacks
on every race of man, I think you’re sick.
When winter heals those growths that mar your lip
you’ll settle down. Let warlike humans race
and ferrets dart, and burly badgers dig.
Have faith, and praise the nature that always
has helped all mammals prosper and evolve.
I speak against my own fears, stilling yours.
They both sit silently a few moments then Badger continues:
Ferret! Do your progeny have young?
Mine don’t! They’re getting on but have no cubs.
I had not thought about it until now,
but nearly every badger has a mate,
but the new pairs have no cubs in their nests.
No foxes threaten; crows have moved away.
There is food in plenty: dead birds everywhere.
But no new badgers. Something in the air?