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Gaia’s Song

Honorable Mention – 2019 Poetry Contest

I rummaged around in words all day,
changing this one, discarding that one,
snipping, pruning, and adding, a gardener
working in a field of meaning flowers. 

Now, at this hour before dawn,
sitting in silence while first light smudges horizons,
I wonder where all the words:
written, recorded, spoken, chosen, discarded, go.
Intelligence is not what distinguishes us
from an orangutan with its long, kind face:

Books stamp from printing presses.
Armies march with words
squeezed and polished into diamond thoughts.
Lovers touch each other’s faces
and speak of what is in the other’s spirit
as they forget they are caught in time
and will spin from where they are into a lifetime’s days.
Speakers breathe deep and reach
into throats, minds, and emotions to spew words
as arms wave and bodies lean forward
in an intensity of eyes that demand, 

look at me, look at me, and listen. 

All over earth words are made and remade and remade.
But what do they mean?
What happens to a blue whale’s song sung in ocean depths?
Where does buzzing and wing-fluttering
of worker bees go after they have danced
a map to a field of spring wildflowers? 

Do all words and sounds on earth,
monkey clattering, elephant trumpeting, earthworms sliding, whisper of monarch wings
     in Mexico fluttering tree branches into motion, purple finch song, haunting wind-
     moan echoing through a sandstone canyon, falling rock rumbling in isolated
meld into a symphony pulsating planets, suns, and galaxies? 

Is Gaia poet to eternity?
The singer whose songs sing meanings more profound and beautiful
than our words? 


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Thomas Davis is the author of Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit (2000), a study of the Menominee Indian Tribe and how it has sustained a 230,000 acre forest in ways that have enhanced rather than degraded the environment, and is known for his work in American Indian education.

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