Katherine returned to the laboratory after several weeks in California - she returned inspired by the visits with her and her husband's many poet friends. This week's lab meeting was a break from the norm - no data was discussed, no experiments planned - but instead Maria showed us her photos from her recent trip to the Galapagos. Katherine, as always, chose the perfect poem to match the day - a poem about our planet's loss of biodiversity. Maria said that the Galapagos guides told her group that there were plans to reduce the ecotours of the island - to perhaps eliminate them all together for awhile - because there were signs of substantial stress among a number of animal populations. It made me think about how we (humans) treat our planet - we treat it as if it is ours, as if it is ours to do as we please, that it is here for our amusement and entertainment, and I wonder if we will ever change that mentality in the human population. The arrogance baffles me. As I think about the thread over at Xark regarding possible pro-active approaches to global warming, I can't help but think that we have to start inside our own heads - and simply get over ourselves. Our arrogance is so destructive.
The Animals Are Leaving by Charles Harper Webb
One by one, like guests at a late party,
They shake our hands and step into the dark:
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.
One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.
One by one, like grade school friends,
They move away and fade out of our memory:
Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;
Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill
Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.
One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,
And keep marching, though teachers cry, "Come back!"
Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;
Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;
Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;
Eastern harbor seal; Ceylon elephant; Great Indian rhinoceros.
One by one, like actors after a play that ran for years
And wowed the world, they link their hands and bow
Before the curtain falls.