Against the wood of a tabletop,
where fingerprint whorls are smoothed to scars
a vacant paper globe is bolted
with tape. All its sides are curved,
a ghost without an image, bared
bloodless for the hands of eager children.
This vacant Earth is taxidermied in fear,
its unseen heart tensed like a pressed spring
blank and flat to fill the drawing room.
Quick the children pen their current Earth
and work to fill the white, like needles
that suture a wide mouth shut to never speak,
and stitch each fibre thread into an image of their own.
Quick the children glut the sheet with pens
to puncture its Winter with crayons thrust
and bruise the page with mottled plum
and carve in suns like a swollen peach
grown fat with love and death and speech.
The children love the earth, so hang and draw it.
eagerly they scoop the ivory, sprout the grasslands,
quarter its portions, then with graphite burn
the pastel grass to a black that clatters like crows.
They upraise smoke like the smudges of doves
and stencil the stars with half-life constellations.
They scrawl themselves in sticks, spondaic,
With colourful dropouts and tarpaulin sleepers,
Royal men and city sweepers, all stressed, all equal.
In miniature they recreate the chase of paper bills,
in awe repeat the era that knew to hurt and sleep,
the humans who stuffed squirrels into six pack rings
and left deforestation marks
against the wrists of the Earth.
They and the children sit on Nature’s shoulders
sheathed in nowheres built from concrete
to exist forever as man’s ceaseless ghost,
tip-toeing from lip to grave crisp and unopened.
Once the children had tired they fastened the Earth
like a crucifix, with clips,
to the clinical walls of the exhibition.
Their parents stare at their children’s work,
hope to settle it in their lungs
and unfurl it in breaths at the will of their own,
but instead they weep for their beaten Earth
and babble in the dark of the coffin they built.
They pray for a mushroom to drink their drought
or readily wipe us bastards out.