Ark of Breath
     Mater atrium necessitas, Latin for “The mother of invention is necessity”.

In Beijing, citizens avoid the outdoors,
pay thousands for indoor air filters—
the rich build protective barriers over backyards,
gigantic domes over tennis courts, soccer fields.
It is already happening—

when I first landed in Delhi, walked outside the hotel,
circled round the old colonial streets
teeming with beautiful faces,
I breathed

the equivalent of 25 cigarettes,
the young guide told me later.

You could tell, he wanted to leave India’s massed cities
drowning in smoke—coal, village fires—
but there are not enough arks.

A deluge is already, wave by smoky wave,
filling the thin skin of blue circling
this globe—fires in California,
fires in Siberia, Europe. This

is just a beginning. As every end is.
It’s a mother, necessity.

The ark we seem to need
to navigate this dying sea of atmosphere
where already I begin to worship
breath’s dark enigma.





Dane Cervine’s recent books include Earth Is a Fickle Dancer (Main Street Rag) and The Gateless Gate – Polishing the Moon Sword (Saddle Road Press), a cross-genre work of Zen koans & prose poems. A new book of prose poems The World is God’s Language, will be published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2021. His work has recently been included in several anthologies, including Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (University of Georgia Press, 2018), Fire & Rain: Eco-Poetics of California (Scarlet Tanager Books, 2019), and What Remains – The Many Ways We Say Goodbye (Gelles-Coles Literary Enterprises, 2019).

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