The Fate of Being Here | What a Particular Species Requires


poems by Adam Clay


The Fate of Being Here


In one way, morning births us into the world.
It’s an old process, one traceable at one point

and with luck, its path will disappear
and pass away. Is there a point to diagnosing

if there’s no illness? Misery makes the heart
grow absent or wasted alongside the world

that feels more and more like a factory
with each minute or second. Existence bores

into memory like an awl, though this moment
barely cuts into the surface and might be gone

with tomorrow. There was a field that ran alongside
a forest. There was a piano in the clouds before

the wind carried it elsewhere. Each day we
polish and clean our memories with the hope

that their surfaces will flake away to the border
of a foreign country. You saw an animal

out of the corner of your eye, but it was gone
before you could say what it was. This is the fate

of being here, I suppose, but a placeholder
has a purpose similar to dust and dirt and blood:

they each remind us of an order greater than all others,
a brevity of breath in a country of expiration.



What a Particular Species Requires


Perhaps we’re seeing the forest and the trees,
though it’s rarely clear where we are or what

devices guide us. A homemade object requires
a home. An object made out of doors requires

nothing of its maker but open sky and a damaged
well. Thank the locals for their advice and move right

along. Atmosphere amazes me more than water,
though we’ve spent a lot of time here above

sea level watching the birds fly into each other,
marking the weakest among them and taking

them out. We make light of the way most
animals do this. I’m not talking about

people here either (a poem can, in fact, just
be about animals). The storm forecasted to arrive

has not. The storm not forecasted will most likely
arrive tomorrow and a child will weep inside

with such disgust at the lack of our power over
nature. It could be any one of us. It could have

been any one of us. The house shakes every time
a train passes by, a nice affair for a house

with no clocks, watches, or time. It must be half
past three so you ask me what’s for dinner

and I say whatever you want and we have
a conversation that’s more comfortable

than comforting, more wishful than wistful,
more news than noise. And we’re the better for it.



Adam Clay