A day at the ocean is not the same
as any day. That trawler has not passed
this exact same way before. These waves break
only once and disappear forever.
Rocks wear thin one grain of sand at a time.
This beach was once rock. This rock was once sea
bed: volcanic vent, gas and hot basalt.
The salty depths blossomed from summer squalls.
Each moment of our lives crashes slowly,
so slowly that we can’t tell memory
from living, as we trawl along shifting
channels over waves never born before,
gulls trailing behind us, hungry for scraps,
snatching at what lies gasping in the nets.
Blank Verse Sonnet in Celebration of Carte Blanche Consumption
I want to sing the beauty of nature
but take no pleasure in crooning dirges.
So I laud not what once was but what is:
Invasive species blooming profusely
along highways and in darling clearcuts.
The rivers swimming with hatchery fish.
Artificial lakes behind dams hiding
useless valleys under boat-friendly floods.
Happy new roads paved for better mileage,
trails to accommodate more than just feet,
comforting roar of dirt bikes in forest
and chainsaws felling trees sold under cost—
ten cents on the dollar. That’s good business.
I sing of the living. Why sing of death?
Jeff Fearnside’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Paris Review, The Fourth River, Permafrost, Clackamas Literary Review, The Los Angeles Review, and Forest Under Story: Creative Inquiry in an Old-Growth Forest (University of Washington Press). Honors for his work include writing residencies at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest and the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, a Peace Corps Writers Poetry Award, and an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. He has taught writing and literature for many years, currently at Oregon State University.
Header photo by Pexels, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Jeff Fearnside by Sabina Poole for the Oregon Arts Commission.