Part V, Teaching a Stone to Talk
We are here to witness. There is nothing else to do
with those mute materials we do not need. Until Larry
teaches his stone to talk, until God changes his mind,
or until the pagan gods slip back to their hilltop groves,
all we can do with the whole inhuman array is watch it.
We can stage our own act on the planet--build our cities
on its plains, dam its rivers, plant its topsoils--but
our meaningful activity scarcely covers the terrain.
We do not use the songbirds, for instance. We do not
eat many of them; we cannot befriend them; we cannot
persuade them to eat more mosquitoes or plant fewer
weed seeds. We can only witness them--whoever they
are. If we were not here, they would be songbirds falling
in the forest. If we were not here, material events like
the passage of seasons would lack even the meager meanings
we are able to muster for them. The show would play
to an empty house, as do all those falling stars which
fall in the daytime. That is why I take walks: to keep
an eye on things.