I feel like a blind man living inside a kaleidoscope;
A glutton with but one taste bud left;
A monk who’s forgotten what he knew of God;
A tin-eared drunk waking up just as angels
burst across the heavens in song.
I’m a coma patient wrapped in wool,
strapped in a closet in a blackened room
in the back of the basement.
The blind tick only cares for butyric acid’s smell,
and the exact temperature of blood.
Then it falls into blackness, hoping
it will land on the fur,
feed on the blood of a passing deer.
It can smell butyric on mammals’ fur,
and sense just the temperature of blood,
which is exactly 37 degrees Celsius.
The small part of the world it senses
is its umwelt. Nothing else is real to it.
Nothing else needs to be.
For the black ghost knifefish, it’s electrical fields.
For the echolocating bat, it’s air-compression waves.
For us, it’s a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum
our eyes are adapted to see, the wavelengths
that have the highest energy in sunlight.
The colors of ripening fruit and food, as it happens.
Our other senses are just good enough to get by.
We can’t compete with a bloodhound’s
olfactory genius; we’re pitiful in that department.
Such is our umwelt. We sense a tiny sliver of the world.
We don’t know anything beyond our reality,
Our umwelt, out of which we construct everything
like a sacred myth, what we think we know, but do not.
What are the odds
Of that one seed
Falling at that precise instant
(Not a second earlier, or later)
On that particular day
On just the right side, facing the sun,
In just the spot where there was an opening
Where there just happened to be enough soil
Where the mason had left a gap last year
Because it was time for lunch and
He was in a hurry.
When the breeze randomly moved in just the right strength,
In just the right direction
And stopped at the right moment.
So that when the rain came by
in just the right amount
And then, just in time,
The impossible became probable,
And mere potential became actual.
One seed out of millions.
How cruel these nights, his belly knows,
Through rocky valleys gorged with snows;
His watchful eyes like shards of ice,
The lonely hunter’s hunger grows.
On solitary trails of white,
In empty days and bleakest night,
Ten million nights have come to this,
Death strikes true, or life takes flight.
A feathered hunter watches near
Taunts “Who is that who founders here?
“Who is it damned to roam the rocks,
“While I soar free and without fear?
Red in tooth, sharp in claw,
Ruthless Nature tests us all.
Eat or die, win or lose,
Five billion years, that’s been the law.
Yet we believe, against mere fact,
Our charms will make the fates retract
What may just be our final act.
What may just be our final act
This was a practice piece, mimicking, again, the meter and patterns of Frost’s “Stopping By a Woods…”