Cold solace

Science tells us that the fallen tree
makes a sound.

It doesn’t matter if we’re there.
It doesn’t.

The branches’ sudden arcuate course
through whistled air,

the sharp crack of limb against limb,
the sickly pop of rotted roots

and then the final sodden thud
trunk on duff-strewn ground

all loose air pressure wave upon
propagating wave

whether any reaches a human ear
doesn’t enter into it.

The birds will hear,
and the mice.

The worms and the earless snakes
will hear the impact whole-bodied.

And anyway, were a human there
he might not notice.

Beauty quietly goes about its business
though our backs are turned,

waves at sea swell sublime
with no ship within a hundred miles

brilliant, complicated crystals
grow a mile beneath our feet.

It comforts me, our
irrelevance to beauty.

The stars will still wheel overhead
without us,

the sunrise clouds as vermilion,
rivers still in lazy swoops across the flats,

a tease of verdin yellow
against the creosote

flash floods carve deep hieroglyphs
into the living rock.

One thought on “Cold solace

  1. Madhusudan Katti

    Thank you for this cold solace, Chris! It is the most comforting solace there is. I keep thinking about the little 7-gram Green Leaf Warblers I studied two decades ago, and how they kept flying from their Central Asian breeding grounds to winter in southern India and Sri Lanka, flying right over Afghanistan, and Kashmir, oblivious to our unending wars to control land they knew intimately in some ways, deep in their genes, as they kept to their cosmic calendar of breed-fledge-migrate-moult-migrate-breed… singing their songs and fighting for their little territories year after year after year. I can picture them now, likely hunting for caterpillars among the teak leaves at my study site, hunkering down as another winter cyclone threatens from the Bay of Bengal, awaiting it because more rain means more caterpillars. My memory of those little birds, so tiny fragile in my hands, yet strong and resourceul enough to fly thousands of miles under their own power, indifferent to our geopolitics – that is what brings me some solace, just like your tease of verdin yellow.

    Thank you, my friend.