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Family, Genus, Species

by Emily Thomas

Because I want to feel connected,
show respect, I am trying to learn
the names of all things.
Plant purple coneflower for tiger swallowtails.
Plant red clover for honeybees, local and those spilled
across the highway from Florida to Maine.


There is a nightclub massacre – not even a new term –
and when we hear the news, we are hung over
from a nightclub. We let a blanket float down to the grass
and lay on it all day in the shadow of the tree
where we fell in love – some kind of maple
silver or sugar.

I feel the loss unwind in my body, wires
stretched taut across the country snap.
We hold truths non-negotiable as bullets
as fear comes hammering.
We put our heads to the ground and the earth
keeps going, beetles click, soil
shifts, the pulse of the earth is steady.
Meanwhile, a song sparrow eats a caterpillar in Virginia
a meadowlark eats a robber fly in Connecticut
an egret eats a tiger moth in South Carolina
we cling like gnats
as the planet stomps and spits

after the next great flood, the headline
will scroll by in an empty room:
hurricane season is just beginning.





Read all work by Emily Thomas


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