Why two animals? you ask. Why only two?
The easy answer is “Like mom and dad,”
but your puzzled eyes say that won’t do.

That’s the least, I say, the least that we
can be and still have human things—
and two can someday make a family

Outside your window day turns into night.
The lighted bodies in the blackening air
wheel through on their inevitable flight.

The floodgates, the fountains of the deep,
kept back by an irrational hand,
are quiet while you drop off into sleep.

But standing by your bed, I turn to stare,
as shadows fill the corners of your room,
and think with what unutterable despair

they watched the ship recede atop the waves,
clutching their infants in the rising flood,
knowing they were not chosen to be saved.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 29 Number 6, on page 40
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