If a wilted Earth of sunburnt cities
buried in tons of sweltering trash
need millennia to compost clean,
a stealthy trek may dodge atrocities
to mountains that hide in secluded mass
an ancient underground lake and stream.

There tunnel deep into rock and clay,
dig vaulted passageways and pass
from cavern cool gray to hothouse green,
an odd constriction of labor and play,
safe under thick lens dark tinted glass
where gardeners cultivate and dream.

Well slept through another hot day?
Work lamplit with the gentler night,
nurture to humus the precious soil,
recycle waste, throw nothing away,
germinate seeds under filtered light
blessed to know such methods of toil.

Venture out seldom in daytime glare
all covered in uniform white,
quick finish that crisis repair,
shading the eyes' irreparable sight,
since a mere glance at the burning sky
will blind this science of fragile chance
if life-giving leaves all wither and die,
no oxygen for lungs and logical sense,
for beyond this root of endangered life
not a single living eye or branch,
but wastelands of self-defeated strife
amid oceans of suffocating stench.

Inherited grieving clamps like a vice
any impulse to sing and dance,
so grim the pall over a terminal race,
praying forgiveness with healing chants,
their children now who laugh and chase
soon will brood on the reasons why,
warned they spread like overbreeding mice
humans held tight their addiction to lies,
raging for dollars at an ecocidal pace,
consuming the planet for profit and "highs"
while mapping the stars for conquest of space,
expanding forever incentive to buy
moral defense of each greedy false face.

Oh smother the birth of that fossilized year,
to begin was to end in this final frontier!

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John Talbot Ross