When the whole world should celebrate, but shouldn’t EVERY DAY be Earth Day?
We concentrate, as we should, on environmental impacts: pollution, energy issues, our polluted seas, etc. but today I am thinking of something else: that we have squeezed other species out of their natural environments and they have moved within our expanding communities. Fox, bear, opossum, racoons, coyotes, deer, etc. are prominant here in my urban neighborhood, and the attitudes about this are extreme. The poem below, “The Fox” has thoughts about our environment, humankind, religion and the species we share this Earth with. Something we should be mindful of every day, not just on Earth Day.
Yanked from sleep
By a scream
Wrapping around the belly,
Fueled by some instinct of
Long buried ancestors.
Knowing without knowing
A terrible slaughter was tearing
The soft night apart.
I had heard that sound before.
Coming fully awake,
heart pounding through my chest
I listened again, and there!
The vocals of a hen attacked
By something stealing through
The soft night, waiting beyond
The edge of sleep.
Three dogs have I
City dogs, though with
The blood of once-fierce hounds.
Not one of them would
Run out to do battle.
Grabbing the collar of the
Biggest, he turned and bit me-
He was no fool.
There was danger
In that dark night-
He was doing his best
To avoid it.
I’ll face the monsters
Out there myself!
And switching on the porch light
I saw the dark flight of something
Fly across my yard and vision,
Take a sharp left and disappear
Into the night where porch light met
A dismal darkness.
Running to the chicken coop,
Found a young hen, a pile of feathers
Mounded around her, still alive
How do you comfort a tail- less hen
At dawn, with a crescent moon
Throwing feeble light upon the ground of slaughter?
I’ve raised hens for enough years
To know they are merciless to the injured.
But the events of the night
Had stunned their own instincts
And she burrowed amongst them,
They crowding around, covering with feathers and warmth,
Rocked out of their slumber
Clucking out warnings to further attackers:
Let the night and its beasts hear their rage!
In the morning I asked my neighbor
Once a south-Georgia farm boy what to do.
His answer was bloodier than
The attack of this young fox,
For young he must be,
Not to kill his prey on first strike.
“Spread poison in the kudzu,
Here, I’ll lend you a shotgun-
Fox be vermin and bred for no good.”
There is something mystical
In a fox who dares to live in a city.
Birthed in the kudzu growing
From the leveling of a small forest
Sheltered in one-foot wide drainpipes,
Feeding on rats and rabbits
With a taste for chicken from time to time.
I’ll lock up my chickens
Let a dog prowl the fence,
And leave off the
Modern methods of slaughter.
There must be a balance in nature
As it struggles to right itself
To bypass concrete and the destruction
Of habitat by mankind.
There will be a balance
And I will stand with the foxes.
Oh, it is a marvel and a mystery!
For every species is the center of its universe,
If only for him.
We are connected by a fine thread to all else,
Our survival depends upon this,
Yet our eyes are blinded to the truth
And something in the proclamation
Of “Inheriting the Earth”
Lies and trips us up,
And we are no more shepherds
Of these species than wolves
In human skin.
The world is what it is,
With its own rules of hunger, survival,
We just a cog in this great Mandala,
And most of us attempt to bypass
These laws of nature, still clothed with
Dead dreams of conquerors.
And some of us know this deep in our bones.
We are blind to the beauty of life
That we are not alone.
The tragedy would be if we were,
And we deny our connection to what we now proclaim “vermin”,
Believing for some bad reason this makes us more human.
Copyrighted, 2014, from “Pitcher of Moon”
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