By Andrea Collins
They rose to the surface of my backyard,
rich in ecological afterglow, swollen with
nutrients and biblical particles.
Our cross-species communication cripples me.
We do not speak, and I have lost the
language for experiencing anything
of its own will, translating nothing
without pen and paper,
satellite and electrified mail. I want
to ask for their web address,
but moving closer, they turn into
concrete-quiet, cream-colored, caterpillar-like
roly-polies, curling bodies latching
onto tiny twigs during my afternoon inspections.
Google says, in 1916, Japanese Beetle Grubs
hitched a ride to America inside a shipment
of Iris bulbs. No name creatures tunneling
underground, sucking life from the root,
American menaces emerging
from the soil to become
only what they are meant to be—
Japanese Beetles that mate without
hesitation, without exclusion,
eat plants in frenzies, enjoy elastic-sex
in ecstatic spurts of fixed cycles.
I know myself proprioceptively,
introspectively, so unnecessarily, I ask:
Darlings, do you know where you come from,
why you’re here, in my backyard, chewing down
stalks and grassy shoots, squirming atop
my slipping, sandy thoughts?
Your life cycle depends upon instinct,
upon seasons, upon no decision whatsoever.
You are not meant to be
anything other than what you are,
but for what I imagine of you,
I cannot find reason.
I wait for you to come to an arrival,
a splat against my absorbent eco-psychological lens.
Speak to me in Egyptian, like ankh
or type me a letter in Latin, like apocrypha,
language of religions that somehow prove truth
through mystical telephone wires
whispering mythological moodiness,
gods hanging on high clouds,
but I don’t believe the translations.
Song sparrows and black birds pluck
you from earth,
food for the living.
I call upon you like Homer’s
invocation of his muse,
but I do not see the point
in being a believer in things
that do not have the throat for conversation,
so I watch with my third eye for magical smoke
from a burning bush or virginal births
posted on twitter.
Primordial passers consumed you, so I figure
they are the closest shot I’ve got to ab ovo
and incunabulum, some substantiating
evidence that you are real. The sparrows deliver
cup-like blossoms full of consecrated blood.
I drink it up, me, a sensory-skinny spectator
of unspoiled intuitives who don’t ever think
about what comes next—
I have asked the song sparrows to spy on them
for me, they seem to do anything,
like I am their feral human friend leader,
believers in bodies without sentience,
but birds are believers of things like Jesus
thuribles wafting frankincense
and Holy Communion, paper thin wafers
that soak up humbug and depravity
on the tongues of us wasted wasting wasters
of the only truth-like substances among us.
They still believe in us without knowing
themselves through mirrors and microscopes,
petri dishes, the periodic table like names in Aramaic
on parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
They remember penny-spent wings,
pulpy papyrus and book binding on
breath and stone and ears cupping air.
They remember the pimps of bare-naked
Marys or Marthas washing feet,
concealing the stench of limp and lame lepers,
all claiming Samaritans, the messiah himself, lay
upon them ointments to alleviate buggering hungers.
They remember Madonna’s cone brassiere
and her kiss-sharing session with Brittany
Elvis Presley’s hip gyrations
Miley Cyrus’s twisting tongue
for modern English audiences
and they don’t need me
to tell them
where they come from.
Looking with my hands
smelling with my fingers
hearing with my eyes
something deaf to my ears
subatomic voices squealing, vibrating
through cracks of lime stone
and artificial linguistics
vivid on a computer screen,
rolls of factory mashed, motorized
paper for my mental teeth or pulled by airplane
for advertisement of automobile insurance.
I realize the sparrows don’t mind grubbing
on fertilized insects and sanitized plant-life—
being the only witnesses
to all that civilization dismisses, they
do not know how to look for the damages
in colonial orthography
and mechanical evolution
like I do.
I ask the grubs directly: Come closer
with your brown snub noses; do you
remember any of this jabberwocky, too?
On spider webs I get caught up in cross-spiraling
ecowebs, trying to conceptualize, name it all,
paint experience on the keratin of your erstwhile
reptilian friend, the tortoise. Maybe, I am wrong,
but who can be so right? Someone took you to see
Jesus in the catacomb, likely where
the transporting of nature’s commodities began.
All the while, were you not simply
searching for a comfortable spot in the sand,
a place to call home? Swooped up in a pinching
sparrow’s beak while you cycled through
sexual encounters and extirpated tender roots?
While you wiggle and rest, making
insignificant patterns in the sand, repetitiously
I hold out my hand for the answers
but you turn inwards toward yourself
and the sparrows’ transponders are flipped off.
Their buried cell phones so far into
sacral stone, I don’t know what to think
of all that’s missing from phenomenology.
Google can keep me searching for hours,
by foot, I can take you in my palm, sacrifice you
to the sparrows who know something, at least,
of how to mesmerize me with an intersubjective
story about our origins. They always accept who I am,
and who I will become, anatomized corpse for you
to suckle on for endless centuries. It’s all I can
depend on for truth, since their songs can be heard,
not so many secrets of how exactly they give birth
and you refuse to open up to me through text message.
All you are good for is squirming in sediments
of my imagination, deracinating
my synthetic tentacles from electronics,
stirring my memory of skeletons
of Hebrew history recorded
in mathematical equations,
solitary confinement for my species,
a place to call home.
Andrea’s work appears in The Rumpus, Beach Unleash, Bridge Eight, Off The Rocks, and Ash & Bones – forthcoming, Apeiron Review, Matter, Plath Profiles. A writing instructor for Warrior Writers and Left on Mallory, and avid volunteer for Pit Sisters, she earned her MA (Antioch University Midwest) and BA (Wittenberg University).