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Wednesday, March 06, 2019


by Pepper Trail

Very high carbon dioxide could suppress cooling clouds, climate change model warns —The Washington Post, February 25, 2019

The icebergs—did you see them, before?
Great rambling beasts of the Southern Ocean
White, or the faded blue of memory
Broken but whole, inanimate and alive
Taking from us, as they approached
Our breath, our warmth, our words
Now, mere wave-broken pools of melt

Next, emptying out the world, everything
Needful of the space we have filled
Elephants, bears, wolves, whales
And also the small, requiring things
To be just so, intricacy of this bee, that flower
The curving tongue, the perfumed throat
Doomed by their entangled perfection

We came to accept all that, and yes
We struggle to remember the time before
The storms, and the skeleton reefs
Droughts, floods, crumbling shores
Spreading deserts, absent glaciers
The burning forests, the sinuous rivers
Working their way through the city streets

Yet, still somehow, we never dreamed
The clouds themselves, reliable as mountains
Could be added to the roster of extinction
That we would live beneath an empty sky
That between us and the burning sun
Would remain only a merciless nothing
An atmosphere exhaled by us alone

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.