John Grey – Poem

Survival of the Species

You explain shrews in winter,
how they mostly freeze and die,
how just a few survive
but they’re so adept at propagation
that that’s all it takes
to renew the species.

You think nothing
of a hundred thousand tiny rodents
folding up inside their fur
to futilely ward off sub-zero temperatures,
their blood, their flesh chilling
from the outside in
until there’s just a heart
beating its way into that icy oblivion.

You think nothing of that
scramble of survivors,
half-sensual, half-desperate,
to grab at the fleeting shreds
of living left to them,
replenish their meager species
just so there’ll be more
to suffer through
what they have suffered.

You think nothing of saying
there’s a beauty
to that rustle in the leaf-molds,
those high-pitched
squeals of lovemaking,
the bustle of litters, of feeding,
of shrew imprinting shrew.

It’s all part of our walk
deep into the forest.
It’s all part of our childlessness
and the deeper chill
that brings you.


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