Anthropocene

We live, we’re told
In a new age, a new epoch –
No blankets of ice receding;
No migratory influx
Of elephants, or deer
Hippo or mastodon;
We live, we’re told
In a new age, an age of apes;

Tell that to the sparrows
Struggling for food, for shelter
Where the grubbed-up hedge once was.

Tell that to the herring
Their darting silver shoals
More precious than our silver trinkets.

Tell that to the cows
Force injected for profit
Fattened for cheap cuts.

They already know.

Climbing up Beattock,
That steady climb,
The marvel of man
Tilts, glides, leans –
Yet outside,
The ever-morphing panorama
Reveals the patina of ages seen –
Everywhere,
Everywhere,

The inverted shadows
Of ancient farmers’ furrowed fields;
The sinuous blocky grace
Of a dry stone wall, clambering, crossing
The spoil heaps, lost in paradise
Of shovel-clawed quarries;
Mile on mile on mile
Of paving; inked lines, snaking onwards.

We already know.

Despite our ascendency, we descend
Unable, unwilling, denying –
Irrationally debating the rational
Arguing the inarguable.

Despite our ascendency, we descend
Still we lift the trees
Pave the earth
Grasp, hunt, steal.

Despite our ascendency, we descend
Incapable of acting
Incapable of stewarding
Incapable of preventing
Our descent, from our ascendency.

We already know.

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