In the previous entry I posted a draft of a poem about despair on our lack of limits. This entry includes a revision.
Last year, close my childhood home, yet another patch of woodland was cut to put in a new “development” of apartments and townhouses. More of the same things encroaching on diminishing beauty. It reminds me of a few things:
- When I was a kid, the same thing happened in my neighborhood. Just down the street a set of the same new same new townhouses were dropped onto woods where my friends and I snuck at night. That was around the time of the fights in the Pacific Northwest and my first acquaintance with citizen fury over logging and clear-cutting. I’ve been sympathetic to Earth First ever since.
- In his 1992 book Ecological Literacy, David Orr writes about our acceptance of ugliness in the industrial age. Such a tragedy. Like all tragedies, we can already look back and see the inevitability in the characters’ lives. Addicted to and enslaved to our machines and their efficiencies – not our efficiencies – we have made forests, meadows, wetlands, and farm fields into deformations. Maybe I’m even sitting in one right now.
- In “Damage,” Wendell Berry writes about what a man with a bulldozer can do to land and the costs it can bring. The cost is a cost to the biota, to the landscape, and to the heart/mind of the land’s dwellers.
Here is “Development Near Big Hollow,” a fourth draft of this poem. I will revise it more.
“Development Near Big Hollow”
One hundred unblinking eyes stare, framed by red false shutters.
Each new townhouse, a pressed block dropped on dry clay.
Men in worn denim assembled them, instructed by glossy booklets
bought from a copper-tipped toy salesman at the mall.
Dust whistles through the chestnut boughs onto a black oak’s roots.
The robin’s eggs crack and spill thick hope on waving ferns.
A million of the sun’s incarnations fell in hours,
cleared for a hundred elsewheres
slated to become somewhere
students and alumni will hazily remember
in light bent through shot glasses,
in the smell of cheap beer foam soaked
in their pores,
amid the din of college football roaring from the stadium,
from sweaty hands groping at tits in the dark,
on bodies slapping
in a mockery of procreation.
How did my generation birth
the plastic house, the indolent student, the toy block schematic, and the dried scabs?
Just last year Jenny nodded off in her porch swing with her child on her breast
synchronized with crickets and peepers singing cantatas of forever,
fireflies dancing above the shades.
If drunk eyes can blink and see,
she might return, witnessing a better birth.