The Day the Caterpillars Came

by Steve Meador
FreeWrights Peer Review
Second Place, April 2009
Judged by Duncan Mercredi


We lazed on the west bank
of the Auglaize, till days met,
fished, buzzed on warm Blatz
stolen from Treat’s garage
and puked foam after inhaling
roll-your-own cigarettes.

We believed Tecumseh, the boy,
had climbed the oaks across the river
and Tecumseh, the man, had commanded
the canopies to silence screams
from settlers slaughtered by his hand.

But the Cats came, ‘dozed down the old trees.
Diesel fumes suffocated the excitement
stoked by the “miracle stone”
with its twenty-seven skips, skims and skitters
over water’s glycerin surface.

Centuries,
sucked up through roots now exposed
to a death dance of sun and air,
awaited rites at a lumber mill.
Columnar trunks that once supported
clouds and stars would relive
as flimsy veneer and spindly table legs.

With nothing to prop it up,
the plum-colored universe met the ground
and morning blues would drop onto the east bank.
We didn’t know whether to invoke the name
of Jesus or a Shawnee sachem,
cry out loud to the world,
“Look at the sky!
It is falling.”


Why? I'm not entirely sure. I suppose it's the rhythm of the poem. It sings, it lifts, it reaches down and tugs at your soul. The beauty of a place undisturbed for centuries and to suddenly see it's passed ripped out by the roots that leaves one to wonder why "the sky is falling" --Duncan Mercredi

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