The forest was full of wildlife
that couldn’t survive our modern world.
Those creatures don’t believe in progress, a youth said.
An elder put on a wise face and replied, wisdom and progress are not one and the same.
And then the youths threw stones at him for being such a cliché.
There are so many trees, one of the youths complained, and they’re so old. Our bodies are not habitat-specific and we’re ready for new vistas. Let’s find a really big snake and ask it nicely to drive us out of here. It can slither us all the way to the sea.
It’ll slither you all the way to hell, someone older, but not as old as the trees said.
Hell is a construct meant to keep us in line. But we’re all curvy, another youth giggled. And then the group started hissing.
Something new had entered the forest: rain. It was determined to make its mark. It rained and rained and rained. The water soaked into the ground and the earth grew soft and came apart. As the situation became more dire, peoples reacted differently. Some decided to go with the flow and drift away. Others climbed to the treetops. There were those who filled their pockets with stones and waited at the bottom for the floods to end. Nested societies of shrinking magnitude.
Sharmila Cohen is an award-winning writer and translator. Her work has been featured in publications such as BOMB, Harpers, LitHub and Epiphany. In 2021, her English translation of The High-Rise Diver (Die Hochhausspringerin) by Julia von Lucadou was published by World Editions. She also co-founded Telephone Books, an interdisciplinary press dedicated to experimental translation. Originally from New York, Cohen moved to Berlin in 2011 as a Fulbright Scholar to complete a creative literary project.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan