There was a time before this screen though our bodies only remember it like a room with a wall where once there were portholes. Light no longer falling over some lovers slouched shoulders in the tub. I made a garden & still I wasn’t happy—one hundred sunflowers & the only screaming I heard was mine. A hole, core deep. A detonation waiting. The morning I felt most lost from myself I could no longer hear my plants in bloom. I erased my Someday list. Clouds were just clouds. I tried to remind myself crows won’t eat their dead. Instead they gather around a body in silence or raucous. Whether you believe they grieve there, sometimes moments sometimes days, or you believe they gather data to avoid their own demise says everything your family needs to know about you. I believe Earth will be the last mammoth to flower, who decided one chance to weapon her beauty is simply not enough. What if that is the only story we have to tell you, the voice of our planet so quiet inside us we could never see her breathing from space is a heart beating & it was always going to be too late.
Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of tether (Black Lawrence Press, April 2020), Errata (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award, and In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. She is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is an assistant professor of poetry and creative nonfiction in the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Header image by Aleksandar Mijatovic, with portions provided by NASA, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Lisa Fay Coutley by Randy Mattley