Biosphere 2: One Poem by Wendy Burk

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Biosphere 2: James D’Elia’s Duet 

James Angelo D’Elia I call the Cactus Wren
            who, upon squeezing into the desert biome through mesh
            and cambering a clumsy nestosphere,
            no longer worries about being plotted onto a graph, or noticed by anyone.
Science is a muscle waiting for small alterations,
            not big— 
            a human on the walkway as invisible as a callus!
So that might be you piloting your wheelchair down the hill toward me,
Space traveler,
Heart in the heart— 
Body in the body of the Biosphere,
            as every visitor hands an invisible body into the airlock,
            the sun-swept biome where outside most enters in
            and inside most resembles outside, lie
            and truth of our experimental lives.
James Angelo D’Elia inspects a set of plastic tubs,
            uses his beak to think about mycorrhizae,
            translation: duet of the life of water and earth
Flowing into rhizomes,
We all have them.
Ashes, ashes, ocean.




Wendy Burk, a poet and translator of Spanish, is the recipient of a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship. She is the author of two chapbooks, The Deer and The Place Names The Place Named, and the translator of two chapbooks by Tedi López Mills, While Light Is Built and Arcadia in Chacahua. Her work has previously appeared in VOLT, Aufgabe, Trickhouse, Terrain.org, Tin House, Spiral Orb, Colorado Review, and other journals.

Read poetry and poetry translations by Wendy Burk appearing in Terrain.org.

Photo of the cactus wren in desert biome at Biosphere 2 by Eric Magrane.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.