Back when we were animals,
we could tell good birdsong from bad,
poplar sap from larch,
a safe root from a poison one.

A thousand scents and sounds are gone,
and with them the tiny data points they represented:

Here, the bedrock is granite.
Here, limestone.
Here, a cave holds the young of snakes.

Like the ignorant young of Carthage
after the fire,
we have no idea what we’ve lost;
we have only the ashes to tell us.


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