Gaia II

Only humans embalm the dead.

Gaia. Photo by Presagio (cc) 2007.
Gaia. Photo by Presagio (cc) 2007.

The beaver, the otter, the deer, the horned owl
have enough sense to lie down and die
enriching the earth with their bones,
devoting their flesh to carrion

eaters. Sunflower seeds flirt with earth, alfalfa digs
deep. Leaves of the deciduous kind
fall, decompose, create soil the earthworms plows
dutifully and cow dung becomes
tomorrow’s radishes and asparagus.


her skirts about her,
imminently forgiving, eternally changing,
adjusting, re-establishing, re-seeding, nourishing, and—
blindsided by Homo avarus
who with ignorance and malice
fouls his own den lacking
the good sense of a mother grizzly.

The beneficent seas Gaia sprinkled
just salty enough are burning.
Her breath
soured by plumes of nitrogen oxide,
sulfur dioxide and mercury
exhales clouds of smog and acid rain,
locking in fever, expelling hope.

She’ll hitch up
her skirts
once again
her brow furrowed, her fury unleashed,

to change everything she touches and to watch
the embalmed disintegrate.

This poem is from Gaia’s Cry, a book of poems by Nan Lundeen, which is available at

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