Reading Miguel Hernández to My Toddler as Thousands of Emperor Penguin Chicks Disappear

Little lark of my house,
we totter on the brink
of an incremental extinction;

remember, a small shift
in degrees might sluice us
into the cold blue sea

of nonexistence. This
is no metaphor. We all
tread water with brined

lungs and a horizon
swallowed up by blizzards.
An arctic wind yowls

in your father’s chest
when he thinks of you
jaunting an earth fringed

with inevitable disaster.
O future of my bones
and of my love,

little linnet, you break apart
the iceberg in me.
Keep brimming, you beauty,

even on the edge of apocalypse,
fly us, buoy us, plummet us,
against all despair.

Dante Di Stefano is the author of Ill Angels and Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Best American Poetry 2018, Poem-a-Day, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, and elsewhere. Along with María Isabel Álvarez, he co-edited the anthology Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America.