How does a flicker, flying fast through

Thick forest foliage not falter

And fall as I stumble with each step

Among roots beside carcasses of fallen trees?

Trivial twigs cause my eyes to wince and invade my ears,

Fussing with me as I move forward.

Why am I so disturbed by little things

That distress none of the woodland’s creatures,

Who go about their business unperturbed?

Why does the insect who investigates me, the intruder, startle me?

We were here once, and not too long ago,

As time would have it. Not so long ago,

And written about. Our history

Is set down in speech,

On stone, leaf, and sheaf,

How we inhabited the coppice, not flying,

Merely walking barefoot,

Foraging, fighting, forging about.

I have seen among the records of antiquity

How we moved through the pitch of night

Not only under the softness of the moon,

But also the gentle grace of starlight.

A black sky able to cast shadows.

It was then our ancestors

Played naked on frozen lakes under

The glare of a winter sun.

Please, tell me no more lies of sacred lands,

Of rocks, mountains, or trees from whence all life

And law spewed forth.

I am too tired of listening to never-ending

Broadcasts from the Tower of Babel.

I only want the softness of the moon

And the gentle grace of starlight to show me someday

The way to the pitch darkness of eternal night.

— David J. Kaplan

Kaplan is retired from broadcasting, spent 40 years at CBS Television and was awarded an Emmy. His short stories and poems have appeared in past U.S. 1 Summer Fictional Festivals in the Tiferet Journal, The Paulinskill Poetry Project, and other publications.

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