SPILL by Angela Sorby

Spill

First I thought it was my furnace:
a black metallic odor
seeping through the glass-block
window into the yard.
Then I guessed it started
under my car: a shimmery river
of darkness. Then I figured: my lawn-
mower. Did it blow a plug?
What was that weird smell?
Where were the plovers, the sparrows,
the terns? My eco-neighbor,
out watering compost worms,
said, “It’s BP!”

And then I knew.

It’s not BP. It’s him. It’s me.
We’ve been gushing bullshit
since Earth Day, 1970.
What to do? Write a poem?

Christ.

Rilke beat everyone to it.
He said, “You must change your life.”

–Angela Sorby

~~~~~~~~~~

STATEMENT

Frogs, because their skin is osmotic, are often the first to register the signs of environmental degradation:  they grow extra arms or fail to develop eyes.  Poets, like frogs, should be marking these changes as they occur.  I don’t think poets can change the world, at least not with poems alone, but we can be witnesses to its collapse, and maybe to its regeneration.

~~~~~~~~~~

Angela Sorby’s books include DISTANCE LEARNING (New Issues, 1998); SCHOOLROOM POETS (UPNE, 2005), and BIRD SKIN COAT (Wisconsin, 2009), which won the Brittingham Prize.  She’s headed to Xiamen University, China, on a Fulbright next year, but mostly she teaches at Marquette University, in Milwaukee.

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