Jeffrey Franklin



("The Overwintering Ecology of a Tropical Species")

Here’s the road-weary team in the Sierra Chincuas,

their white utility van disgorging lawn chairs

and computers, skillets, guitars, and atomic scales,

cases of toilet rolls and a machine engineered

for the gradual freezing of monitored butterflies.

Here, a sun-drenched valley sealed in a paperweight.

Someone has shaken it, and ragged, piebald flakes

litter the sky all the way to the Caribbean.

And look, someone has woven a raiment of breath

in ebony and gold and with it draped a corner

of the forest primeval, tucking every contour.

Have you heard the one about the flock hovering

in the shape of a tree, their wings’ leaves rustling

with certain wind, and the hunter, sure he’d seen birds

moments before, unsquints his aim, scratches

his head, and trudges over the hill homeward?

And here, in the researcher’s dream, she approaches,

her bare skin powdered with a crystalline dust

the shade of snapdragons and sweet on his tongue

as confectioner’s sugar, her stained-glass wings

pulsing above him, her shuddered breath spilling

a batik of moonlight across the forest litter.

In closing, the graphed data suggest body-water’s

hazardous, hastening the onset of the "Freezing Event,"

this final spike of heat the soul’s flight.

Copyright © 2002 Jeffrey Franklin.  All Rights Reserved.

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