Animal Mind

Carol Flake Chapman

I am living in the eternal present not planning

For a future that is far too distant to see clearly

And so I live one moment at a time though

I am not sure this is mindfulness but necessity

I am constantly jettisoning things from my nest

That I don’t need never really needed at all

Those shiny things that have lost their luster


Since I can’t really shop for dresses and shoes

As there is nowhere to wear them anyway

I think I’ll try on some new identities for a change

A whole new set of skin and bones and maybe fur

Or maybe feathers sprouting on my head and tail

What if I could be a bear for a day or an owl for a night

It might feel good to growl or hoot my heart out but

I don’t want to be a raptor despite their soaring beauty

Though I would like a bird’s-eye view of the world


I wonder if I might already be partway there

As I am reverting to a kind of animal vigilance

Not a werewolf sprouting hair on my paws

Looking down in horror at my sharp claws

But a herd animal suddenly lost on its own

Hyper aware of the possibility of predators

Without masks lurking in wait to cough on me

I see things moving out of the corner of my eye

I am ready to run away at the slightest sneeze


I wonder if evolution is taking some twists and turns

And Gaia might be regretting letting humans reign

And she is sending us on the road not taken eons ago

Though it does not feel as though we are going backward

But forward as we realize we are lost without each other

A former journalist, Carol Flake Chapman returned to poetry, her first love, after the  sudden death of her husband on a wild river in Guatemala shattered her world. Poetry, she found, was the language she needed to respond to a world gone haywire. After the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, she felt a journalist's urgency to respond, but with a poetic sensibility that encompassed the emotional and spiritual aspects of a world suddenly turned upside down.

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