After the bees fled, birds followed.
People forgot how to do what the birds and the bees do.
We lost nest-knowledge, hive-knowledge; all eggs except Fabergé
and honey including sweet talk disappeared. Ants left;
good riddance some said to the fire ants, but wherefore art thou
to the sugar kind, annoying though they were at times –
no trails of collective labor on our countertops,
no dynamic dotted lines on plaid to animate our picnics.
Someone tried to stroke her cat and cut her hand on cardboard:
a decoy, deployed how many hours since the feline went fugitive?
Dogs: taxonomized, glass-eyed, cold to all offers
of walks in the park or cheese-flavored treats.
Stables, barnyards, zoos, even the sewers where rats swam
in our filth – all fled; and the wilds,
quiet as an after-hours shopping mall. How could earth
be earth without insect, fowl, amphibian or furry four-legs?
The film had jammed in the projector, the flow of life no longer flowed.
An ark, a fleet of arks on auto-pilot had invaded;
creation decreated, and consciousness, the human ray,
the flashlight into cosmic darkness: flailing and purposeless
without our companions. We fondled field guides, bestiaries, fables,
forgot which brutes had been real and which imagined;
mascots, manuals, and constellations, our only comfort and consolation.
Robert Lunday is the author of Mad Flights (Ashland Poetry Press). His recent work is in Word Riot, Field, Poet Lore, Tar River Poetry, Shadowgraph, and Black Sun Lit. He lives on a small horse farm in central Texas and teaches for Houston Community College.