Onions

“Men argue. Nature acts.”

—Voltaire

 

Palm trees wave their heavy heads,

canna lilies rise brilliant and bloody

in their beds, and the tide floods the streets.

They call it sunny day flooding, because it hasn’t rained

for weeks, and still the water comes.

I haven’t cried in weeks, and still—

 

I hear the polar caps are nearly free

of ice, that the sea will rise and don’t I know it?

My car founders in the flood.

I like to think this is the only thing stopping me

from finding you,

 

but that isn’t true.

The tide swept in and took you away. At least

 

that is what I say when people ask where you are.

I know it sounds like you’re dead, forgive me

if I find that easier.

I’ve tried to live consciously, nothing

without purpose, to do nothing

without consideration for the world

I inhabit.

 

Since you left, I’ve kept

all the lights on. Since you left,

I drive my car endlessly around the neighborhood.

I eat beef and candy, and I’m thinking

of having a pool put into the backyard, thinking

about buying an SUV.

 

The water burbles up through storm drains, seeps

into the roots of our garden, kills

our onions with salt. Which is okay, I guess,

since you planted them.

The Po’ouli

(listed as extinct in 2018)

 

Little black-headed song

bird, discovered

only recently—1973,

the year Secretariat won

the Triple Crown—so much

relentless muscle

 

racing a circle

while this cryptic bird

flitted up Haleakala’s

steep slope—moss-tangled,

dripping ferns—snapping up

snails and waxworms.

 

Now imagine this:

a last ditch effort,

venturing across

the volcanic crater

with padded boxes,

hoping to catch

 

the last three

specimens—perhaps

a breeding pair—

256 birds captured, but no

Po’ouli—fifteen years

later they would declare

 

the bird extinct—another

in a long line lost

to invasive species,

disease,

and habitat destruction.

The people who tried

 

to save this little bird

are immune

to despair—

they suspend

themselves

from ropes,

 

pollinate flowers

when the pollinators

have died—

they trek

the rainforest

playing calls

 

from long dead birds,

but you, little bandit,

refuse the call—

there is no hope

but we can’t help

ourselves,

 

we believe in miracles—

a songbird waiting

to be discovered.