Tankers off our coastlines spill blood
transported from across the world
already clotted black as it reaches us.
This time the victims are sea birds;
someone has voted their proxies,
perhaps at the committee considering
whether to put global warming on the agenda
for its last meeting ever.
I think of my high school chemistry teacher,
her smock brown from spilled tannic acid,
stopping in the middle of an experiment
to quote Francis Thompson to us:
"thou canst not stir a flower
without the troubling of a star."
The poem has stayed with me, the ink
of a permanent tattoo,
the meaning of a red rose
just before it's dipped in liquid nitrogen.
Absolute zero is stirring
in the President's head
while someone tolls a bell
in a drowned cathedral:
going, going. . . .
I try to listen for a green word
from the redwoods that haven't been
replaced by Redwood Village
but something crimson is in the wind.
the planet's blood is on our hands,
and not enough clean water left to wash it off.