Science Poem of the Day #2

  • by National Office
  • 12 August, 2018
Science Poem of the Day #2

Today’s poem is from Earthly Matters: biology & geology poems, published by The Poets Union.

Martin Langford

The Silence of the Frogs

So many silences.

Wharves. Or the silence of caves.

The silence of big skies. Of forests.

Of sunlight on carpet.

The silence of frogs.

You hear it round Sydney:
wherever the soil has been smashed,
or the billabongs drained;
wherever insecticide’s crept, subtle tide,
into slicks where the pathogens bloom –
each distinct silence the shade of an absence –
a graph of what’s no longer there.
You can walk through a loose, sandstone talus –
wind in the she-oaks, the black cockatoos
crunching cones; the peace-field of crickets
a torus with you at its heart: you will hear,
if you stop and breathe slowly, the diffident hush
where the bright, red-crowned toadlet once croaked.
Walk out in paperbark swamps at Kurnell –
through a patter of drips, after rain –
while shrike-thrushes start, and then mynahs,
and planes boost their thrust – you will hear,
in that open-air cave, the perfect
and brief non-existence of shy Wallum froglets.
Put on some boots for the leaf-litter – adders
and browns: the absence of burrowing frogs,
in the sun’s empty air; the soundless vibrato
of bright green-thighed frogs; the fitful
but vanished staccato of stuttering frogs

So many silences.

These are all new.

But they won’t remain this clear for long.

They won’t be so easy to hear
once this cohort of listeners is all silent too.

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