Poets for Science
Global Gallery

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



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—
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
something sovereign

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