“How Long Before the Fish Go?” by James A. Schmitz


In a still pool high above the hidden river
Live the only discernible creatures:
Fish no longer than the length of
A thumb

These sturdy fish, lord protectors
Of this minute realm, swim about this
Clear pond unfazed by the morning
Sun's emerging rays or a few black-seeded clouds
Until an intrusive hiker disturbs
This normally placid water by lapping, dog-like,
The lukewarm liquid into his greedy mouth,
Stealing without regard from this tiny pond,
A selfish act that sends the fish darting
About as if in protest

Minutes later after this callous trekker is gone,
These resilient fish abandon their frenzy and return to
Normal, reclaiming their secluded desert domain.
For eons this species has resided in this modest
Enclave lined with mud and stone. Slicing rains
Accompanied by torrential thunder have drilled the
Canyon's bottom while lightning's wild electrical
Strikes have set afire the rim's abundant forest land.
And other creatures, desperate as the thirsty hiker,
Have invaded these fish's private refuge above the
Raging river that helped carve the orange volcanic
Canyon amidst this sea of rock and sand

Yet those fish have never asked for an apology,
Content to remain the royal masters of their
Humble serene world.
But sadly what we can learn from these
Intrepid survivors is neither understood nor wanted
By the Planet's populace spoon fed lies by glib
Profiteers made rich by the perpetuation of their
Exponential yearly damage.

Now when lumbering giants blindly take huge steps,
Tossing bloody limbs and broken branches high into
The sky, the earth cries out in pain--decimated beyond
Repair or replenishment--while the unfeeling giants,
Indifferent to their plundering, serve notice
They will soon devour the Globe's entire atmosphere as
The canyon becomes their personal foundry and our
Habitat broils, then burns, and those long-enduring
Little fish dehydrate and evaporate in a hapless,
Dried-up hole