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Friday, July 22, 2016


by Eben Gering

“We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are 'isolated.' They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere.” —Sonia Sotomayor dissenting from the majority opinion in Utah v. Strieff, June 20, 2016

There’s a soft green thing inside the stony corals
we call Fingers, Brains, Tongues, that can turn
sunlight into fuel;
this is how the corals grow—an umbilical connection
to our planet’s mothering star.

Something we’ve done to the sea
is making them leave,
and leaving
bones of living reefs
to gasp at wet lenses
that flood with a harshening light.

We know some of why
this is happening—
a kind of infection,
climatic instability.

And we also know,
in a better world,
bleached corals can grow again.

If their symbionts return, they’ll sing
the many-colored songs
of the healthy, living

Eben Gering is an evolutionary biologist at Michigan State University.