in other news (2020)

in other news | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Sophie Klahr, honorable mention prizewinner in the 10th annual Zócalo Poetry Prize.

someone ate a bat, they say—that’s how it happened
photographs of empty rush hours     empty vegas empty beaches
fake news of swans and dolphins in venice canals
true news of long-horned goats sprawling through small towns
this is not like last year when starving polar bears reeled ice-lost and half-blind
to scavenge dustbins in ittoqqortoormilt
an article claims with so many home-bound by the pandemic
scientists suddenly are better able to hear the earth
fires pour through trees and fields and towns for days
and miles and miles and a boy who went back home
to rescue his dog and his grandmother is found in the driver’s seat of a car
with the dog draped over both their bodies dead
across three days just before last christmas
around four thousand and five hundred flying foxes fell in a heat-wave
some we get to in time says a volunteer rescuer others die in your hands
a woman rips away her shirt to wrap in linen a darkly seared koala
and tv outlets run this as good news
more shaky footage a young man running
on a shoulder near the flames and the rabbit he catches
leaping from the burning bush
yesterday from six feet away my neighbor tells me
how walking in our neighborhood

he found a pear tree and ate from it
the warmest pear he says
my skin has not been touched
in seven months
I dream that night
he asks me to walk with him
wouldn’t you rather walk with me? he says
though nothing else has been offered
heavy rain presses a flock of black-eyed susans
down and back together
outside the frame of my bedroom window
I see the sky white behind the pines
and there is
no particular end