“Rocky Mountain locust”
And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one
cannot be able to see the earth . . . and shall eat every
tree which groweth for you out of the field: And they
shall fill thy houses and the houses of all thy servants . . .
—Exodus 10:5–6 (KJV)
Sun-shuttering abundance, a music
deepened to machine, wind-sprung and thrumming
at the edges of everything. The sum
of all the scattered signals spindling out
from stars, the noise coincident in light
that animates the patchwork silences
of sky between radios, sounds in this.
The insects gnashed and spat, set listeners
ablaze with the million crackling statics
of their jaws.
From the porch, you noted first
the futile scent of kerosene, shining
in a ditch—lantern cracked and crimson-hulled—
when, ears attuned to the swarming field, you
heard human voices in it, dissolving
with the landscape: fence posts and hung linen,
the painted handle of your mother’s spade. – 1875
Once your labor’s eaten to its shadows,
you’ll kneel in moonscapes, this Grand Deletion,
and claw theodicies from knits of root.
“Ascension night heron”
. . . we sawe such a multitude of birdes of diuers sortes with
coloured feathers, that the lyke was neuer séene in our tyme,
the which came flying to our ships, and woulde reste vpon
vs, so that we might take them with our handes, and with
greate payne coulde we be ridde of them.
—André Thevet, The New Found Worlde, or Antarctike (1568)
A florid holography, the seabirds
turning, ink-dark and mutable as rain,
splutters of Ascension-blue: Isle of Gyres
some sailor once improbably mistook
for the mind of a god, a Poseidon-
thought, by votive flock lighted and lighting.
Small deaths diminished him.
cast of men outlived their masters, teeming
shoreward, ship-borne. The island laid its feast
A familiar story.
From what aery contemplations welter
on the wing-troubled cliffs, we cannot cull
the heron’s song, nor figure the flourish
it swept across the moon’s blind eye, haunting
seawater’s pale break like a history.
Images: Courtesy of Nathan Manley.