Poem: ‘[chiasmus with all the other animals]’

Brenda Hillman recalls a summer of pandemic isolation and protests.

bees collect pollen from a sunflower on july 25, 2017 near bergheim, western germany  afp photo  dpa  oliver berg  germany out        photo credit should read oliver bergdpaafp via getty images

In the first six months of the pandemic, I thought often about characterizations of world history, world events, and how poets make accounts during crises. The philosopher Hegel was often in mind, his idea of the world soul. I was also rereading the book of Revelation and thinking about racialized violence at the root of our history. The perceptions of things floating across the various screens and landscapes were often markers. This poem is part of a sequence of 24 poems I worked on to weave a sense of dailiness and eternity, solitude and community.•

Curled thrush song staggering  over moral tally

Number is all  wrote Baudelaire

    Fox kits hunting  solitary voles

So many beings here without despair

From a box of words  called a room
We heard     a protest in the distances

The pall  caul  crawl  through summer

Struggling bees  not yet out of work

Cities were running out of sidewalks
Where men could sleep

Human life  on the high fade

Didn’t see plovers  but saw yellow police tape

Didn’t see whales chasing  dots of krill
 Some might make it north
  Captain Ahab  chasing minnows now

Compared to what
          is this our earthly fear

Roadside mosses  seasonally moist rocks

Unfailing dirt  arriving from a star

Straight from  its lifelike origins  ear

Love  keep love  at the crossroads
Of doing nothing   & nothing doing

Before the next ignorant machine  opens
Briefly & always  to another life

Brenda Hillman’s most recent book is Extra Hidden Life, among the Days.
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