Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving: Otters and Steamrollers

[this is from a prompt from Graham: something in 3rd person, with otters and steamrollers and some element of nihilism.]

Morning by morning,
New mercies I see

Otters and steamrollers have long had enmity
over the basic structure of the Universe. Otters
pull trout from swirling streams, gnaw the fins
so as to avoid loss of their catch.
Blood drips down into the shallow ripples over gravel bars.
This is education: placing meaning behind
phenomena. Otters observe with keen eyes
how the current takes the drops.

Steamrollers see no meaning.
Their heads hang, eyes dropped
straight and down. Learning
is knowing there is nothing
aside from the pavement ahead. The crushed insects,
mashed into the asphalt are no longer bugs, they’re pavement.

At Thanksgiving, the steamrollers have difficulty
sitting still, keeping quiet, when the family goes
around the table saying one thing each:
what they are thankful for. Steamrollers
raise their voice with angry assertions
that there is no point, and that gratitude means nothing.
These are followed by long quiets. Otters take time—
cleaning fur, searching for something to say.
Otters have never repeated their thought;
year after year they find something new.


graham said...

this is rad stuff. read it at claustrophobia!

my main quibble is the very very end-- "new and meaningful" could just be "new" and it feels less prescriptive. good work.

Jake Tucker said...

I had as just new, but I thought it needed more syllables.