will be made of plastic, that glowing
sky space of eternity floating above
bright colors of every size from nano-
to peta-chip—a kind of technicolor
beach—and we’ll waft above the sea
holding on to our paragliders of plastic bags—
trying to sight those millennia of gifts
we gave away—wild turtles adrift
in turquoise waters, the forest lemurs,
the vaquita; the Monarch butterflies,
gorillas and orangutans and tigers;
the Chinook salmon; Sumatran elephants,
the rhinos; the rusty-patched bumblebee
and little brown bats on bright posters
plastered on our sky-blue walls—oh,
memory, even if it were eternal,
is small consolation for the loss
of those brief, bright-burning lives—
(not loss, but murder, says my inner critic:
bellies filled with plastic, eardrums
blasted into blood-pools, reefs acidified.
If reincarnation works, we’ll come back
as whales and fish and sea anemones).
Robin Chapman is author of ten books of poetry, including most recently The Only Home We Know (Tebot Bach, 2019), poems of our current times; Six True Things, poems about growing up in the Manhattan Project town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and recipient of a Wisconsin Library Association Outstanding Achievement in Poetry Award; and the Posner Poetry Award-winning collections The Way In and Images of a Complex World: The Art and Poetry of Chaos (with J.C. Sprott’s explanations and fractals). Her book The Dreamer Who Counted the Deadreceived a WLA award, and her book Abundance received the Cider Press Editors’ Book Award. She is recipient of the 2010 Helen Howe Poetry Prize from Appalachia Journal. Her work has appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review and Valparaiso Poetry Review.