Two hundred million years ago
the world was damp as dew and hot
and pterosaurs were soaring. No
expert can say precisely what
caused creatures to grow so darned colossal.
(Hard to tell from a tight-lipped fossil.)
Far lower in oxygen, that air
was good enough for dinosaurs.
Red tongues of lava licked the bare
and verdant spots alike. The jaws
of giant chasms opened wide
and life was in for a bumpy ride.
After Pangaea’s porcelain crust
cracked up, each crenulated coast
was overcome with wanderlust.
Ammonites, in the nethermost
sea basins, loved their briny tub
and the globe was a jet-set dino club.
It happened like a lightning strike —
an earthward-tumbling boulder struck
the world, which bonged like a gong and shook,
and the ruling brutes ran out of luck,
save one warm-blooded breed we’ve met
that winged its way to us: the bird.
Feral and free or a caged pet,
observed in rainbow hues or heard,
it’s a modern dinosaur. They dwell
on land, in oceans, breathing well
the breezes rich in oxygen.
They plunge off floes into frigid seas,
trill all night (to my wife’s chagrin),
hover and hum like bumblebees,
gallop like colts across dry plains,
or bash their brains on windowpanes.
The world was hot and damp as dew.
Though cooler now, it’s warming fast
as the swiftest falcon through the blue.
How long will this clement coolness last?
Will earth, our avian pals, and we
return to dino air? We’ll see.