a drone captures photographs of the marsh,
its soft curves & swells, the map of it,
how its plants island together, save a rivulet,
the way the sun’s position in the sky
changes the landscape’s colors. the water’s surface is
sensitive to even the carefulest scientists’
boots, so they work from boardwalks,
measuring the change in surface elevation
over time. (spoiler alert: the land gives way to sea.
someone says, a football field of Louisiana
is lost every day—someone else says, every
hour.) while they track & measure,
the egrets & herons go about their business,
turtles & snakes smile because their faces
don’t allow them other expressions. if they knew
in their skins & shells, feathers & flights,
the sins of our two-legged species,
would they sabotage the few of us
they come across in service to each other, in service
to the greater good of their planet? we’ll offer,
as recompense to the devastation our kind
has caused, to build them a palace of sticks, to bake
a carbon-dioxide cake with all those sugars the plants
are busy making. or maybe we could convince them
to conspire against the monied boats parked at Port Fourchon,
explaining how our small motored boat is here
to gather research that could help protect their habitat,
for at least as long as we can, but the Jack & Ms. Lily &
other oceangoing vessels headed offshore—they
would make a truer enemy.
This poem was written for a Global Souths conference panel where poets and biologists shared their work with each other, and based on the studies of Dr. Scott Jones, a recent graduate from UL Lafayette’s biology department.
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