THE BLOG
01/29/2016 05:48 pm ET Updated Jan 29, 2017

Poem for Neil de Grasse Tyson

Poem for Neil de Grasse Tyson

When Neil de Grasse Tyson says that, evolutionarily,
intelligence might be the best way of making oneself
go extinct, I remember the tour guide at the library
telling my fifth grade class about how many miles
of books there are in the library. That if you laid them
end to end you could walk to the Midwest. And I see
some ash-caked child trekking past burnt-out houses
and charred skeletons, laying out cookbooks,
Obadiah, and Watchmen like stepping stones
as if to say, anyone could have seen where all this
would get us. All roads lead to Rome and all books
to oblivion. From dust to dust and from Bibles
to bunker busters. Tearing out pages from Harry Potter
and leaving them behind him like breadcrumbs,
watching the wind scatter them as if they were seeds.
I imagine the first men finding fire, beards illuminated
as they roar at the sparks, and the monkeys, startled,
curling their tails more tightly about the boughs.
Watching fire become flowers and fields and farms
and fire. Instinct, the same one that taught them to peel
bananas, reminding them that it is better to sleep in trees,
wary of pythons and caimans, than to climb warily
earthward. To write sonnets. To make love and clay huts,
or to pronounce the word "tranquility." To salsa, to salute,
to mourn. To give stories to the stars and names to their children.