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, 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.