Hunting and Gathering in the 1980s

Nothing has grown here for a thousand years
There are no nutrients here
Things live by a different energy
Magic once crested these breezes but
That magic is gone

Today’s totems are pressed from the
Tiny skeletons of someone’s ancestors
They keep up appearances but make
No difference

Voices of nubile girls
Who think they know what dreams are
But don’t

Blare disembodied from
Gay enameled boxes
Soliciting orders for McSatisfaction
Hosannas in the parking lot rise up
Like wafting steam

The initiates, for a moment, grasp power that
Cannot be theirs from
Electronic slaves that never long for freedom
On the Big Screen
Impossibly perfect humans with only
Beautiful flaws
Remind us
How empty is my gatherer’s bag
How barren your spear

We are always on the lookout for
A difference
Mostly we find
(and are not surprised)
More bottlecaps than stones
More gumwrappers than leaves
More televisions than caves
In the midst of a garden party given by
Sons and daughters we never had

I pick dark shiny berries that look like
Frog eyes
You reach for grubs and shoots on the
Highest branch of mystery

The skin on your arms is dry brown-purple like
Bark from twigs
Your coat is unbuttoned, your hair
Unwashed, seasoned with
Lichen and fog
Leaves drop from holes in your pockets like
Words falling down a page
Your coat is threadbare but lined with
Your hearth is cold

Your arms are yellow and
Your voice is filled with dust but
Your words have wings and dance
In unison

Caught in the spinning tide, I lie
Head to the north

Night covers day like black wet dirt

I lay out the contents of our bag at the
Low water mark
Paying careful attention to the
Beckoning of the wind and the
Opening and closing of mussels

I sit at the center of this collection
My back to the waves
And count the murmurings in my inner ear

The tide comes in

The moment is long

There are many kinds of manna and
Life is one of them

We walk the hairline between
Earth and sea until it
And we
Are lost to our foraging

Setting the world on fire
Mumbling aves under our breath
Hunting and gathering in the 1980s

copyright 2011 Carol Rosenblum Perry

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