Maybe the ice is still decaying / in the Arctic. / Maybe / when we are curbed / near our corner window, / tails wagging / as another ancestor / or close kin passes by, / & the polar bears move / further south / to elope with brown bears, / maybe / the Arctic becomes a melting pot / & the polar bears / find existence. / Maybe not. / I am told / when a trigger finds / its target- / offspring, / a polar-grizzly / dies. / Their instinct, / I am told, / is no longer grizzly, / in a sense, / no longer bear / who kills / because you have stumbled along its path / where it leaves you for dead, / but a mulatto hunter / who will eat you / behind lush green / eyes. / Maybe the ice then / is not decaying glacial lines. / Maybe so. / Maybe / I’m just talkin’ ‘bout bein’ black. / Maybe not. / Maybe Mother Nature / is the one with lush green eyes / on her comeback— / riding our brokenness, / slow moving / like a bronco / &, as a senior citizen, / the only true believer left. / Maybe not. / For all we know, / dolphins spinning, / swans voguing, / & jellyfish doing whatever it is jellyfish do / are all on their return to Venetian waters / like clear skies over New Delhi, / a coyote to Michigan Ave, / black bears, / I swear, / to a student-less campus / partially observant as rule-followers / without masks / keeping six feet / above soil / like New Yorkers / fearfully aiding one another. / Then, of course, / maybe not. / Maybe there are others / who have their right to assemble, / angry to the eyeballs / with stimulus checks / no one will give back. / Theirs may be an ice age of another kind, / a different story / of grocery stores filled / with empty shelves, / Purell for cleaning / clean hands, / tissue paper for dabbing tears / in bathrooms. / Then / there is the economy / & that night owl above my cousin’s porch— / April, / in St. Louis, / circling the living air. / So then, / maybe the question is not / whether we will touch, / distant, / but how & when our want to resist / will end
Chaun Ballard’s chapbook, Flight, is the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and is published by Tupelo Press. He is a recipient of the 2019 Alaska Literary Award. His work has received nominations for both Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize.
Header photo by Risto Raunio, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Chaun Ballard by Tara Ballard.