The earth said remember me. The earth said don’t let go.

fiddleneck flowers at dawn
Fiddleneck at dawn, Russian River Open Space Preserve. Photo by my wonderfully talented friend Jeff Schwegman. Click the photo for more! 

In honor of Earth Day, and all days on this earth, here is a stunning poem by Jorie Graham (1950-).

“Poem”

The earth said
remember me.
The earth said
don’t let go,

said it one day
when I was
accidentally
listening, I

heard it, I felt it
like temperature,
all said in a
whisper—build to-

morrow, make right be-
fall, you are not
free, other scenes
are not taking

place, time is not filled,
time is not late, there is
a thing the emptiness
needs as you need

emptiness, it
shrinks from light again &
again, although all things
are present, a

fact a day a
bird that warps the
arithmetic of per-
fection with its

arc, passing again &
again in the evening
air, in the pre-
vailing wind, making no

mistake—yr in-
difference is yr
principal beauty
the mind says all the

time—I hear it—I
hear it every-
where. The earth
said remember

me. I am the
earth it said. Re-
member me.

Who can utter the poignance of all that is constantly threatened

As wildfire smoke covers so much of California in an eerie, devastating haze, I can’t help but think of this Denise Levertov poem that I posted years ago. Tonight I am holding not only this ever-fragile paradise I call home and all its people close to my heart but also the threatened landscapes and communities disintegrating across the world every day.

firesmoke.jpg

“In California: Morning, Evening, Late January”

Pale, then enkindled,
light
advancing,
emblazoning
summits of palm and pine,

the dew
lingering,
scripture of
scintillas.

Soon the roar
of mowers
cropping the already short
grass of lawns,

men with long-nozzled
cylinders of pesticide
poking at weeds,
at moss in cracks of cement,

and louder roar
of helicopters off to spray
vineyards where braceros try
to hold their breath,

and in the distance, bulldozers, excavators,
babel of destructive construction.

Banded by deep
oakshadow, airy
shadow of eucalyptus,

miner’s lettuce,
tender, untasted,
and other grass, unmown,
luxuriant,
no green more brilliant.

Fragile paradise.

. . . .

At day’s end the whole sky,
vast, unstinting, flooded with transparent
mauve,
tint of wisteria,
cloudless
over the malls, the industrial parks,
the homes with the lights going on,
the homeless arranging their bundles.

. . . .

Who can utter
the poignance of all that is constantly
threatened, invaded, expended

and constantly
nevertheless
persists in beauty,

tranquil as this young moon
just risen and slowly
drinking light
from the vanished sun.

Who can utter
the praise of such generosity
or the shame?

I come into the peace of wild things

In honor of Earth Day, I’m sharing a poem by the amazing writer and environmentalist Wendell Berry (1934-) that many of you are probably familiar with but can never be read too much.  And if you’re jonesin’ for some more Earth Day verse, here are the Walt Whitman poems I usually post.

wendell-berry

“The Peace of Wild Things”

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.