In the Time of Vanishing Kingdoms
Out of nowhere, winds flare, a spark catches
the oak, its bark chars while flames hollow
the trunks of the stand of trees:
a forest of candles.
Miles away, the beach once walked upon
is now the floor for an underwater kingdom
of seaweed and fish in need,
coral blanched and brittle at the ocean’s edge.
Still, the earth’s rotation
remains as reliable as anything
the universe offers — the red moon’s eclipse
over islands and storm-shattered palms.
The dank sludge of oil
dredged from the earth
alters the seas, skews the balance
of hot and cold
until it is only illusion
that villages and cities wrapped
along diminishing shores
and birds that rummage
or pluck fish from swells
will still be here
in so many blinding sunrises.
Nancy Dickeman is the author of the poetry chapbook Lantern. Her poems, fiction, and essays appear in Post Road, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest, Hawai’i Pacific Review, High Desert Journal, The Seattle Times, and other publications. She lives in Seattle and is literary curator for a multidisciplinary exhibit addressing nuclear issues, Particles on the Wall.