Happy Earth Day! (and belated) Happy National Poetry Month! As I procrastinated writing this post, I recalled Elizabeth Bishop‘s poem “One Art”:
the art of losing’s not too hard to masterthough it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
On the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans from all backgrounds helped launch the modern environmental movement. This activism occurred alongside passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking laws. Bishop’s admonishment rings especially true as these protections are threatened by corporate greed, and human indifference or apathy. Climate change is still being debated even against the vast majority of scientific opinion, and a public living amidst melting icecaps and rising sea levels that no longer remains divided along political lines. Family, friends, our wildlife brethren, gardens, livelihoods – Nature itself: what would we sacrifice because we did not act?
Burning the Old Year
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.
—Naomi Shihab Nye