Poetry Sunday: Endangered Species

Endangered Species


Out the living-room window
I see the two older children burning
household trash under the ash tree
in wind and rain. They move
in slow motion about the flames,
heads bowed in concentration
as they feed each fresh piece in, hair
blown wild across their faces, the fire
wavering in tongues before them
so they seem creatures
half flame, half flesh,
wholly separate from me. All of a sudden
the baby breaks slowly down
through the flexed branches of the ash
in a blaze of blood and green leaves,
an amniotic drench, a gleaming liver-purple
slop of ripe placenta, head first
and wailing to be amongst us. Boy and girl
look up in silence and hold gravely out
flamefeathered arms to catch her,
who lands on her back in their linked
and ashen hands. Later,
when I take her in my arms

for a walk to that turn on the high road
where the sea always startles, I can see
how at intervals she’s thunderstruck
by a scalloped green leaf, a shivering
jig of grassheads, or that speckled bee
that pushes itself among
the purple and scarlet parts
of a fuchsia bell. And her eyes are on fire.