Climate Change

A middle aged man in Bermuda shorts
pushes a white-haired woman in a wheelchair
along the path that leads to the pond
where today the ducks and geese float peacefully
beneath the high shooting fountains
whose spray is blown eastward in fine droplets
by the offshore winds which have finally arrived from the south
where great walls of fire and spiraling columns of flames
have been scouring up and down hillsides
in a feeding frenzy that consumes most homes but not all,
serendipitously sparing one or two to stand testimony
to what has been but now is no more,
and are now slowly receding from the banks of towns
and dry seas of grass that cover the undulating hills
which flow down to meet the metronomic waves of the ocean
while black clouds of ashy air chokes the throats
of birds and men and coyotes whose long residency
of this place once called the Land of Smoke
by earlier inhabitants will be over
when this purge of fire finally gives way to quaking ground
and the earth shakes her shaggy head
and reassembles the hills and canyon in new formations
while in the east, lands are swept by raging rivers
that topple towns and swiftly cover meadows
and to the south great shelves of ice plunge into Antarctic seas
which, a millimeter at a time, are creating new shorelines
that will in the days ahead make of Phoenix a harbor and Lake Erie a Gulf;
but until then a pale-winged butterfly, the color of lemon flesh,
lands lightly on a bright dandelion beneath the blue Madonna sky
that holds just one cloud that peeks over the horizon of trees
that edge the parking lot where a mother is calling, “Come on, let’s go!”
across the field and down to the playground
where two small children are climbing the monkey bars
and swinging in unison until she calls again,
“Hurry! Now!” and the four sneaker-clad feet race
to the black station wagon that waits, tail gate open,
bats and bikes spilling out on a mild and cool Sunday morning.


Spring Rhythms

Last night a roar like the rumble of a heavy-laden truck broke the stillness of evening and rapidly grew in intensity. The sky came crashing down in short staccato bursts of small hard ice pellets that hopscotched across wet sidewalks. The sudden storm was furious but passed in moments, leaving behind a slowly sinking sun and a faded blue sky stained with blotches of pink and crimson and orange clouds.

Today, within the small world that is the neighborhood park, the dew lays heavy on the grass, muffling the sounds of passing traffic and the strident barking of a dog. The sky is clear of even the thinnest clouds. The gusts of sweet air jostle the trees, their long limbs shudder and their leaves wave back and forth in the morning light.

People walk down streets and around paths, collars turned up, briskly keeping pace with tail-wagging dogs whose noses twitch as squirrels race up and down ancient oaks. A black-jacketed girl with knee-high boots and short shorts struts across the parking lot, high heels clicking and purse swinging. A jogging man takes off his shirt to bare his young brown skin, then sprints off to the track. At the playground children squeal and chase elusive bouncing balls thrown by weary mothers looking forward to afternoon naps.

Two mallards waddle in stately procession across the wide lawn, twin tails swinging in tick-tock fashion, four webbed feet keeping cadence to a goosey rhythm only they can hear. Overhead two dragonflies dart and dance, their biplane wings a circular blur against the sky. From a nearby branch a black crow looks on with interest and caws in reply to the noon bells of St. Philomene’s. Time for lunch.