First, There’s the World

by Will Falk

First, there’s wind kissing your breast,
chills chapping your lips,
and frost on your sleeping bag before dawn.

First, there’s salmon swimming upstream,
heron stalking blue-gill,
and grizzly bear brothers wrestling.

First, there’s nimble, clean water chasing over pebbles,
ice cracking in the warmth of Spring,
and sand dragging over desert floors.

First, there’s the world.
Then, there’s poetry.

For what is poetry without the voice?
and what is the voice
if not for the world that makes the voice possible?

There is no poetry
without wind forming the breath,
without land to grow food forming the tongue,
and without water keeping the poet’s mouth wet
when she speaks.

The natural world speaks the original languages in many voices.
Lyricism exists in November’s first flakes finding still waters on a pond’s face.
Ancient syllables are formed by old-growth forests telling their stories in the passing of seasons.
The oceans’ eternal rhythms are the music creating life.

Many of these voices are forgotten.
Some have fallen into the silent night of total extinction.
Some are drowned out by the screaming hallucinations we call “civilized life.”

Others have their vocal cords cut with chainsaws,
bruised by bulldozers,
and stopped with asphalt.

It is, after all, much easier to destroy those who cannot speak.