Began with a list.
A bird. Reed cormorant.
Added a fish and a monkey. Hingemouth. White throated monkey.
Added because.
Because the six dorsal and anal fins of the hingemouth and its two teeth
too and also its swim bladder like a lung, covered in alveoli.
Because the silvery wings, longish tail, and short head crest of the reed
cormorant.
Because the white throated monkey, with its red belly and its white legs.
Added the phrase the principle of relation.
Because it was with the principle of relation that the Niger Delta came to
habitat.
So the hingemouth with its six dorsal and anal fins of and its two teeth too
and also its swim bladder like a lung, covered in alveoli, swims.
So the silvery wings, longish tail, and short head crest of the reed cormo­-
rant dives down to considerable depths in the Delta and also dives to
feed, as it tends to do, in more shallow water, bringing slow-moving
mormyrids and cichilds to the surface.
So the white throated monkey, with its red belly and its white legs, bangs
objects against the ground, throws sticks.

 

 

*

 

 

Then added another bird.
Eurasian spoonbill.
Added a crab and a fish.
Cleistostoma kuwaitense. Mudskipper.
Again added because.
Because the Eurasian spoonbill with its dark legs, occasionally grunting
and trumpeting.
Because the cleistostoma kuwaitense building a semi-permanent mud
hood over the entrance to its burrow.
Because the mudskipper digging a deep burrow then hiding in it during
high tide, a polygonal territory surrounded by dams, and defended
against rivals, yet also shared with digging crabs.
Added the phrase the principle of relation.
Because it was with the principle of relation that the Kuwait bay came to
teem.
So the Eurasian spoonbill with its dark legs, grunts and trumpets, sweeps
the end of its partly opened bill from side to side as it wades through
shallow water.
So the mudskipper builds its burrow beneath the mudflats, defends its ter­-
ritory, keeps a pool of water so as to also engage in surface activity.
So the cleistostoma kuwaitense, using the same mud of these mud flats,
builds a semipermanent mud hood.

 

 

*

 

 

Then another bird.
Pelican.
Added a mammal and a fish. Bottlenose dolphin. Red snapper.
Returned to because.
Because the gregarious pelican, traveling in flocks.
Because the bottle nose dolphin, remembering and comprehending.
Because the nibbling and the picking of the red snapper with its short,
sharp needle-like teeth.
Returned to principle of relation.
Because it was with the principle of relation that the Gulf of Mexico came
to be activated.
So the gregarious pelican hunts, hunts cooperatively, plunge dives from
high up so as to stun the fish, scoops them up, and then also breeds,
breeds colonially, in trees, bushes, in the ground, around the gulf.
So the dolphins talks, talks, over thirty distinguishable sounds.
So the red snapper spreads itself out in the artificial reefs of oil platforms,
the smaller fish in the upper part of the water column, the larger in
deeper areas.

 

 

The above is taken from Juliana Spahr’s forthcoming poetry collection, That Winter the Wolf Came, published by Commune Editions & AK Press

 

Cover image © NASA

Travel Notes About Death
War in Donbas