The Red Tail screams its accusations through the haze of

smog and drizzle above the power plant,

slides to an oak

branch where it opens its wings to dry and cleanse.


The memory of an extinct bird flutters in the underbrush.


I am listening to the tree frogs recite their endless lectures.


As the haze burns off the sun begins to set:

the more intense

the color, the more polluted the air.

We don’t really have

a name for that more than its false beauty.

On some walks

we see no tracks, hear no birds or insects.

It’s the darkness

not a deer that rises from the underbrush.

It’s bottles that

outnumber the fish in Chickamauga Creek.

If only we could

cradle the earth in our arms.

I am watching the squirrels

drop chestnut pieces onto the drive so that the sparrows

will pick up the scraps,

as later the racoon will clean up

whatever it can from our compost heap.

How naturally

one thing can speak to another.

We have so many words

for this, and so few that have taken root.


I watched a starling perched on the back of a deer,

picking parasites off its hide.

Today, someone hangs

a noose, another burns a mosque, or shoots at

a synagogue.

What the Red Tail screamed, what

the tree frogs lectured, was that there is less and less

in their world that will, in the end, be there to forgive us.