Friday, April 29, 2011

Die Off

Standing on the brackish shoreline
watching millions of fish float belly up
on the gray waters of the Chesapeake,
he worries for his childrens' future.
Poking the shiny bellies
with a small crooked branch from a Loblolly Pine,
he is looking for some kind of sign, or meaning,
knowing he has no science for the search.
He wonders if Captain Smith ever saw
this drowned valley of the Susquehana
in the same light?
Not likely, he thinks, or the Captain
would have penned it in his journals,
beseeching God for an answer.
Is this just another case of hypoxic waters,
he wonders,
or has some runoff brought
another round of Pfiesteria?

An Arakansas farmer watches redwing blackbirds
fall gracelessly from a cloudless sky
as familiar as yesterday,
and the day before,
no harbingers to forewarn of plummeting feathers.
He ponders the meaning of this dark shower
to the suckling baby nestled
in his frightened wife's arms.

The experts say this happens all the time,
mass die-offs are part of the natural flow of life
while these two men think,
"I have never seen the like before"
each offering a silent prayer of supplication
to a God with a history
of sending punishing pestilence and plagues.

For each, and neither
Science, nor God,
is providing an answer.