Poets for Science
Global Gallery

Each Species a Gift (a poem regarding the mice of the Philippines)

Category

Location

they are very pretty
these impish mice—
these Apomys
these earthworm mice
of the Philippines

dark tails/white feet
big ears/dark eyes—
each species
in its own mountain

in the earth, deep digging mice
in the leaf-litter are mice
on the leaf-litter are mice
and even the trees have mice

each mountain
each niche a boundary
each boundary
a spark for species

and each species a gift
truly indigenous

like this Luzon tree mouse
whose hind feet look like hands—
arboreal/nocturnal
turning to the night
in the cloud canopies

eating buds and bark
leaves and seeds

living amidst epiphytes
whose roots work
the bark of moss-clothed trees

forming soil in which
little earthworms live—
worms for the mice—

systems within systems
sustaining/containing
something sovereign




Written in collaboration with Lawrence Heaney, Negaunee Curator of Mammals,
Field Museum of Natural History, Summer 2022