Poet’s Notebook: My poem, “Earth” followed by a comment

Earth

The fish bowl
is a pretty sight
on the dresser
by the window.

The fish
so pretty,
silver and orange,
red and black,

rainbow flashes.
The little ones
in groups,
dodging and regrouping.

The larger ones,
suspended
like a mobile
in space.

Little ceramic castle
with its drawbridge.

Murmur of the filter.
So pretty.
So peaceful.
So doomed.

………………………………………………

Comments: This is pretty straightforward. It’s not the sort of poem I would like to be writing but the writing well has been dry and I’ll take what I get. I am almost embarrassed to be writing a poem that ends with the word “doomed”. See, I have been working with some students lately who have their heads screwed on right. They attend a local green college that weaves ecological values into its curriculum and it is these students who will lead us out of the disaster my generation and my parent’s generation have created – that fish bowl-Earth living on life support. I have been teaching these students how to build a sweat lodge and how to use it. They are diligent, eager, sensitive and respectful. Last night the weather turned mild, the wind subsided and we prayed in the lodge we built. Then we sat around the table, talking and laughing and enjoying squash soup and each other’s company . . . A needed respite from feeling doomed. When I was nineteen I wrote the following poem in my journal, in a dingy Gast Haus in Austria. A pretty poem I would like to write /and not be criticized for rhyming “kite” with “night”, / but you see, my mind is much too bold / for picking flowers and spinning straw to gold. / A message I just saw, scratched on a bathroom wall said, / If you want me for anything, down the toilet call. / So as I write this poem and drink my bitter beer, / and pay my bill against my will / before I disappear, / I’ll ask you if you are well / and how you drink your tea. / If it is with sugar and cream, I do not write for thee. That poem is not for these students. It is for the fish-people suspended in the doomed fish-bowl.

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