Timothy Steele


On Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sad to say, our history
Amounts to this, when we review it:
Nature gave us the chance to be
A splendid species, but we blew it.

Bird Bath During the Dog Days

The birds nearby have thirsts to quench.
I fill their basin in the heat.
They chatter in what sounds like French:
Vite, vite! they seem to urge. Vite, vite!

I shut the hose. My leaving brings
The flock in. Some drink, wade, relax;
Some flap the water with their wings
And tail-flip water to their backs.

Most are house finches, but a grand
Brown towhee sits among them there.
His messy, soaked crown feathers stand
Upright like liberty-spiked hair.

They dart back to the trees to preen
And relish being cool and wet,
Quiet till I return to clean
The basin for their next toilette.

The Vite Vite Choir starts again.
It’s wrong of them to rush me so.
And yet they’re right: I’ve always been
(Alas) deliberate and slow.

Timothy Steele has published several collections of verse, most recently Toward the Winter Solstice. He is also the author of two prose books about poetry—Missing Measures and All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing—and has edited The Poems of J.V. Cunningham. His honors include a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing from Stanford University; a Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He’s currently working on a new book of poems.