Jennifer Foerster

Touring the Earth Gallery


Touring the Earth Gallery

Chicks – dead in a once teeming reef
and a mother bird
scouring the ghostly coral.

          We dozed, broke our machines.

Fish follow plankton toward cooler seas,

shores erode in the storm surge.

          Our time period is one of

          glacial isostatic adjustment.

Extreme heat and intensifying rain
will bring the island states’ collapse,
the fast decline of seagrass.

          Is it enough that we exist.

The passerine, mute, remembers flight.

Smacked into glass that resembled the sky
it lies on its side in the dirt

          yellow-feathered, wind-stuffed.

In the third chamber, dust

daily rearranged into pastoral scenes:

          beach strewn with radioactive crustaceans –

                    “The Woman at Repose

                    with the Sea Behind Her.”

Note that it is not the woman’s
figure that is kinetic
but the structures above her:

          fugitive lightning –

                    the skeleton of a Dodo bird.

There, where a poet scrapes

her tail across the tundra –

          see the sand blowing over her

          camelid hair tunic?

She dips her quill into a pigment jar
stained with crushed cochineal,
scrawls her forecast across the clouds:

          neon-blue antlers

                    squid, opalescent

                    spawning in the light.


There were still songbirds then
nesting in the hackberry trees
and a butterfly named Question.

I remember ivy trembling
at the vanishing point of your throat.

Then the highways cracked.
California split into an archipelago.
Orchards withered under blooms of ash.

Now there is no nectar. No rotten fruit.
The air is quieted of Cloudywings,
Mourning Cloaks.

                    Once, in Russia,
Ornithologists trapped
a population of hooded crows,
transported them 500 miles westward.
Winter came.
They never caught up with their flock.

With crusts of calcified algae
we catalogue each day lost:
hot thermals, cirrus vaults,
fistfuls of warblers hurtling into dark.

There was no sound to the forgetting.
We knew the heart would implode
before the breath and lungs collapsed.

That the world would end in snow,
an old woman walking alone,
empty birdcage strapped to her back.