Retreat

Martin Ott


Global warming strips us of pretext,
a dysfunctional relationship with constant
grinding between the sheets. Afterwards,
glaciers recede like recalcitrant lovers,
stripping the earth a layer at a time.
We didn’t always wrestle like this.
Centuries-old Incan children sacrificed
to control the weather emerge in thaw
next to lost cargo planes with parcels
of mystical herbs. WWI battlefields
reform with unexploded mortars and love
letters never sent. We shrink away
from the conflict. Roman coins glint
in centuries-old moss and mummified
explorers emerge in frozen forests.
And what about the viruses that have
gone dormant? The past and future
are a dance we approach with tingling
sense, dips and spasms, empty riverbed.
We bow and retreat to opposite sides.  


Martin Ott is the author of seven books of poetry and fiction, including UNDERDAYS, Sandeen Prize Winner, University of Notre Dame Press and Forward Indies Finalist. His newest poetry book Lessons in Camouflage will be published in 2018 by C&R Press. His work has appeared in fifteen anthologies and more than two hundred magazines, including The Harvard Review, The North American Review, and Prairie Schooner.