J. Estanislao Lopez

There are days I think beauty has been exhausted
but then I read about the New York subway cars that,

dumped into the ocean, have become synthetic reefs.
Coral gilds the stanchions, feathered with dim Atlantic light.

Fish glisten, darting from a window into the sea grass
that bends around them like green flames—

this is human-enabled grace. So maybe there’s room
in the margin of error for us to save ourselves

from the trends of self-destruction.
Or maybe such beauty is just another distraction,

stuffing our hearts with its currency, paraded for applause.
Here, in the South, you can hear applause

coming from the ground: even the buried are divided.
At the bottom of the Gulf, dark with Mississippi silt,

rests the broken derrick of an oil rig—and isn’t oil
also beautiful? Ancient and opaque, like an allegory

that suggests we sacrifice our most beloved. Likely
ourselves. In one photograph, a sea turtle skims its belly

across a hull, unimpressed with what’s restored,
barely aware of the ocean around it growing warm.

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