Wildlife                                                                                                                    —Franny Choi

                “In the Canadian province of Alberta, a massive wildlife—uh, wildfire—exploded
                to ten times its previous size Thursday.” —Amy Goodman, host of
Democracy Now


They say the blast was triggered by a passenger pigeon’s ghostly
coo, swifting over the oil fields—at which the grasses stiffened,
shot up a warning scent—which made the beetles shudder from
their beds—which spread a rumor among the earthworms, until,

so quietly at first that no one noticed, a thin hoof cracked
open a patch of earth: last spring’s last-born caribou, the one
who’d gotten separated from the herd and gutted by flies, now back
and raising an orchestra of dust with its kicking, calling forth

hoof by hoof, the whole herd, stampeding from their graves,
flesh and fur remapping onto bones as they percussed out,
pulling with them the pine martens and black-footed ferrets,
who regathered their bones from the soil and darted up

to hop aboard the pine trees now rushing from the horizon,
stretching their newborn necks toward the sun’s familiar laugh
as shrikes and warblers flocked giddy to their shoulders, we’re back,
we’re back,
they giggled as firs and ferns yawned upright to marry

the sparrows and the softshell turtles, whose humble jaws birthed
ponds and marshes with each exhale, inviting the whooping cranes
to unfurl their bodies from the wind and gladly, gladly swoop
down to bless the fish, which in turn gave the whales the idea

to distill back into their old forms from the clouds overhead, until
the sky was clogged with blubbery gods—right whales, gray, beluga,
and even a rumor of a blue whale somewhere over Calgary, casting
a great gray shadow over the baseball fields, every parking lot

and highway cracking open as the earth remembered, rejoiced
with its remembering—and as some of the humans kept trying
to drag up the earth’s black blood, to sell off their mothers’
old marrow, suddenly, then, each pump and spigot spouted forth bees,

butterflies, short-horned lizards, plovers and prickly pears, grizzlies,
snakes, owls of all feather and shape, shrews, sturgeon, each drop
of oil renouncing its war draft and returning to its oldest names:
muscle; stamen; tooth; hoof—the land and water laughing aloud,

a laugh that spread the way a fever spreads, like the opposite of death,
of drills—just the earth, with its thousand mouths, singing: I will. I will.


 photo: Eileen Meny

photo: Eileen Meny

Franny Choi is the author of the collection Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) and the chapbook Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017).  She is a Kundiman Fellow, an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, a Project VOICE teaching artist, and a member of the Dark Noise Collective. 

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2016