Earthrise

Earthrise
Earthrise, December 1968, Image by Apollo 8

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Witness

I was born on the edge of the empire of wealth 
and raised in the spell of wonder. 
The beauty of earth was a birthright.

I played in tame creeks 
and wandered fields of broom sedge. 
My scent was dirt and dog fennel. 

I biked through sun showers 
and rode home through rainbows. 
I roamed about my Father’s world 

and Gaia was my guardian –
I heard her whisper
but did not know her name.

I came of age in church basements 
humming Friday night folk songs 
and Sunday morning hymns. 

Brotherhood was my soundtrack 
and peace was a march away. 
I thought we’d change the world 

but The Age of Aquarius was just a song. 
Now it’s half a century since Apollo 8 
witnessed a Christmas Eve Earth-rise. 

I’ve seen fifty springs of Earth Days, 
and fifty years of EPA. 
Fifty years since leaded gas, 

since DDT, since rivers burned.
I watched brown haze lift, 
shad runs recover, bald eagles return. 

I watched the population soar. 
As we broke the land to feed the billions, 
four became eight on the way to twelve.

I watched the temperature creep. 
I saw oceans acidify, glaciers retreat, 
and growing zones stray north. 

I watched the good earth diminish. 
Life hollowed out. On my watch 
a million species winked away. 

Now I hear the whisper of Gaia again – 
her hymns in the trill of insect wings, 
her psalms in the chorus of toads. 

She calls in the song of a mourning dove 
in the still of a summer day. 
She speaks in the shimmering leaves – 

Gentle spirits, persevere, 
for you are the balm of the earth, 
the dawn mist in a withered land. 

Let the fierce engage the fierce 
and let the vicious contend. 
They have their role when troubles come.

But you, beloved, soft as water, 
you are called to be her witness. 
Be still and inherit the earth. 



Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Time to Abide

She drifts into cities on fertile winds, 
probes cracks with pollen and spores. 
She settles into soft places.

Sterility offends 
so she seeps through seals,
penetrates pipes and wires. 

She bathes in neon green lagoons. 
In the sludge of industrial waste ponds
she knits new enzymes. 

She sleeps in seed-banks 
beneath the streets of Rio 
and ring-roads of Beijing. 

She breathes the smog of Karachi, 
the dust of Dhaka and Delhi. 
She filters the grit of Mexico City. 

She creeps into slums of São Paulo,
Kolkata, Jakarta, Lagos, Lahore. 
She sinks deep roots. 

She savors Manhattan shadows 
where pavement ants eat pizza crumbs 
and coyotes scavenge epicurean rats. 

On the ragged margins of Midwestern farms 
and pockets of the once-Great Plains, 
in exhausted Southern cotton fields 

and ashes of ancient rain forests 
torched for soy and palm 
she waits. 

As she watches the modern world go down 
beneath the weight of eight billion souls 
she sings to the heart of humanity –

Heal, for time is a balm 
and as long as Sun and Earth endure, 
in the broken ages, Gaia abides.