Thin Veneer

PCH Sunset, Pacific Coast Highway, Near Santa Cruz, California, United Staes of America
I saw the Earth
Photographed from space
And was startled
By the whisper-thin atmosphere

I live on a smooth
Round globe
Of rock and water
With just a thin veneer of gas

A veneer so very fragile
So very ephemeral
Shifting its chemistry
As swiftly as the continents
Drift on Earth’s molten core

But never so swiftly
As when the thinner veneer
That is life
Began to breathe it
With cells and lungs

Then accelerated again
When the paper-thin veneer
That is humanity
Began to choke it
With fire and smoke

There is no thinner veneer
Than conscious beings
Which act in the illusion
That their actions
Are also conscious

PCH Sunset
Pacific Coast Highway
Near Santa Cruz
California, United States of America

Taken during travels, 2009

“Fire and smoke” is, of course, a reference to the internal combustion engine and all industrial processes, as well as, well, fire, and smoke.