by Kim Goldberg
Somewhere beyond silent streets
and woodlands, beyond upheaved
graveyards, empty schools, dry spillways, vacant
hibernaculums for little brown bats
beyond the last larval foodplant for the last
western tiger swallowtail
an old woman sits by the sea untangling
the nets of each life she can imagine.
Her cabin above the tideline is filled with books
from the Time Before but little else.
She cooks over a burn barrel beside her shack
stokes it with driftwood and whatever tumbles
ashore. Once an old door made a landing
then a desk still intact. She grills any scrap of flesh
the sea hacks up—bull kelp, moon
jellies, three-eyed eels. Eats them with succulent
stems of glasswort growing in the sand.
When evening comes, she flings each newly
sorted net upon the ocean like a bedsheet
for each is a piece of the planetary genome.
She is waiting for the nets to find
one another, reconnect end-to-end, spiral
beneath the waves. Replicate.
But each net returns alone, an enfolded mass
of knots, bone, chitinous exoskeletons, bloated
elongate bodies of the unknown.
Written June 2, 2017, the morning after US President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Kim Goldberg is the author of seven books of poetry and nonfiction. She lives close to the sea in Nanaimo, British Columbia, where she wanders, wonders, and watches birds.
This piece is part of Not afraid of the ruins, our series of science fiction and utopian imaginings.
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