Inhospitable read by Jessica Goodfellow

My father’s mind is an inhospitable landscape for new memories—
too arid? too empty? too full?

At the same time Earth slowly becomes inhospitable to our species,
our languages.

Is language a container for memory, or
is memory a container for language?

My father’s mind has made itself inhospitable to time,
which made itself inhospitable to his mind, first.

Earth is making herself inhospitable to collective memory,
which made itself inhospitable to the earth, first.

If we as a species are the consciousness of Earth,
we are suffering from a cosmic mind/body problem.

If we as a species are the memory keepers of Earth,
Earth is moving toward the forgetting of who we are: dementia.

But of course we aren’t the memory keepers of the earth—
there are fossils, and layered sediment. There is ice, thick layers of it.

Or, there was ice, thick layers of it. The ice is melting. The memories
are bit by bit disappearing. One way or the other, Earth is forgetting.

Or maybe, humanity is not Earth’s consciousness, not her memory keeper,
but her nightmare from which the planet is now slowly waking up.

And in her waking life, Earth is a hostile topography for the children
of her nightmares, creatures of her psyche, which must now dissipate.

Dissipate like ice dissipates, like my father’s language dissipates,
and his memories.

red deer running                            out of memory
                                                   all things come
                                                                                    from hunger
                                                                  you cannot hide
             a thousand beating wings

Doesn’t it sound like a heartbeat?
Deep time deep time deep time deep time deep time deep time deep time deep time de

Jessica Goodfellow’s poetry books are Whiteout (University of Alaska Press, 2017), Mendeleev’s Mandala (2015), and The Insomniac’s Weather Report (2014). A former writer-in-residence at Denali National Park and Preserve, she’s had poems in The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Scientific American, Verse Daily, Motionpoems, and Best American Poetry 2018.

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