May/June 2016 • Vol. XXXVIII No. 3 Nature's Nature |

Plasticity

It's easier, now, for a man stranded on an island to place a message in a bottle and have it carried away on the backs of the waves. Before, it was hard to find a bottle. The isolated man had to pray one would wash ashore. Now, the island might be made of bottles and lawn chairs, and little plastic heads of little plastic dolls. Here's a computer keyboard. Here's a coastline culled from sunglasses and prescription vials with child resistant lids. The man could construct a city from such things, but right now, he only needs a bottle. Problem is: how to choose? So he picks a different one each day, and pitches his plea for aid into the massive cerulean question: What will become of this world? Today, he opts for a two-liter bottle of Cherry Pepsi. Tomorrow, it might be Tropicana or a gallon of sunblock. Each day, his island is one bottle smaller. Each day, the ground beneath him recedes. Not to worry, if his island disappears, a fresh one forms not far away, and each t

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Matthew Olzmann is the author of two poetry collections: Mezzanines and Contradictions in the Design (both from Alice James Books). He teaches at Dartmouth College and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

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