Little Lady

The Little Lady
fights her way up the
icy Hudson,
thick black exhaust
belching from her barreled stacks,
engine hissing and whining,
like she was rudely jolted from
her warm, glasslike caribbean drift.
And here goes my eyes again –
telescoping
straight through her rolling stern
piercing deep into her belly
sloshing with pungent
petroleum.

And then, like you do,
I started to think about all that
prehistoric plankton,
you know –
the ones that gave their lives to this,
back in the Cenozoic age.
All those microscopic crustaceans,
delicate antenna dancing
in the wake of
fifty foot megalodons
ominously glancing by.

And when their time was done,
probably due to exhaustion,
paddling against the rolling currents
of those prehistoric seas
or maybe that one earmarked
flash
of light in the sky –
they finally let it all go
sinking slowly
suspended in a cone of light
coming to rest
on the ocean floor,
joining layer upon layer
of their friends
for eons
only to be unceremoniously
slurped up
one Wednesday afternoon
by an oversized
BP branded pumpjack on an icy
North Sea rig.

So join me as I try
to find a moment of silence
in the din of this engine cry
and that gruff conductor’s drone
for all those
innumerable
immeasurable
microscopic
protozoans
all my Littler Ladies
who gave their tiny helpless lives
to feed these
coughing pistons
on this rusty old groaner
so a few of us grumpy souls can just get our asses across
to Hoboken.