The penguin thief is bound to show
up on YouTube. He’s too human not to,
cadging pebbles from a neighbor’s nest
to feather his own. We laugh each time
he takes one until he’s caught, suddenly
abashed, and the camera cuts off.
Although what counts for shame in penguins,
I’m not sure. They’re very black and white.
Seeing ourselves in nature films,
we’re bound to watch. We’re the ones
that interest us after all—double-sided,
both pecker and peckee, clutching our stones
even as we wink, the egg of them
on our faces, as what we pile vanishes.
After so much human nearness, any clearing
seems an Antarctic land, raw, equipped
for discovery. There be denizens already, though,
inside the waste: vast trials, minute betrayals,
serious nests on sheets of ice.
The careless heart unwraps its plans
with careful fingers. All love is stolen.
Richard Nester has published essays on social justice topics in The Catholic Agitator, a publication of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, and poetry in numerous magazines, including Ploughshares, Seneca Review, and Callaloo and on-line in The Cortland Review, Qarrtsiluni and Inlandia. He has two collections of poetry, Buffalo Laughter and Gunpowder Summers, both published by Kelsay Books of Riverside, CA. He has twice been a fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.