September 22, and it’s been a day for dirges.
Nuni, my friend’s small white cat, felled by fleas,
lies dead beneath a heart-shaped row of stones
while Kendra’s dog plays host to tumors,
and Kofi Amman invokes the specter of a world 9 billion strong
I don’t know what will become of us.
I don’t know what blood
stains the momentum of our innocence.
there must be half a dozen PhD’s in this room tonight
and just as many guitars.
These are people who should know better
than to seek comfort in laughter, drink, and song
but these are also people who know we do not know
Joni Mitchell, Dave Carter, Bob Dylan,
voices thrown in familiar elegy,
the scientists invoke the sacred
the tapping foot becomes the thumping shaman’s drum.
Though rage and grief and fear may be implicit,
this yellow room is safe tonight.
If the Earth has a temple, we sing its hymns
and offer the ground our local-beer libations
with goofy, rag-tag grace.
In this puddle of life and light and laughter
in the exposed and urban night
this open, objective eye offers
its care-worn, fierce
Note: I wrote this poem almost ten years ago, back when I attended parties with scientists more regularly–hence the reference to Kofi Annan, who was Secretary-General of the UN at the time. That year, the equinox was on the 23rd, but I changed the date just now to match this year.-C.