National Poetry Month: For the Good of the Earth

My National Poetry Month Project has gone off the rails. Instead of writing poetry this week I’ve been changing the diapers of my 3-week old grandson, reading and singing to him and his 2-year old sister, and helping their parents transition to life with 2 kids. 

Early in April, I read an article in The New York Times about microplastics hitching a ride on marine snow to the bottom of the ocean. Scientists fear that this will disrupt the food webs throughout the world’s oceans. This has gnawed at me ever since, but I couldn’t figure out how to write a poem about it. Then I found this quote by Wendell Berry. The last line felt like a perfect strike line for a Golden Shovel: 

Here’s my very drafty draft:

How can we pretend to know
with certainty the
ripple effects of our inventions on the world?
Tons of plastic, that miracle convenience*, floats and
swirls through our oceans. Now we learn
that this “indestructible” scourge breaks down, that microplastics have infiltrated what
were once thought pristine, unreachable depths. Is
no place safe from the blizzard of debris we’ve unleashed on the Earth? What good
is all our technology if we can’t protect our only home for
our grandchildren, for all of nature? They deserve it.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

* See this article to find out how plastic was marketed to our parents in the 1960s. There are many, many articles online about ways to reduce our plastic use. Here’s one with an extensive list of ideas.

Please be sure to visit Matt Forrest Esenwine at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for a terrific interview with Leslie Bulion and the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Previous NPM Posts:

Day 4: Enchantment and Wonder
Day 3: Reciprocity
Day 2: Kith and Kin
Day 1: The Thing Is

16 thoughts on “National Poetry Month: For the Good of the Earth

  1. I, too, am in with a less than hopeful poem today. I saw that quote on twitter. I retweeted, but you made good use of it. It must be doubly hard to look climate change in the face while tending your beautiful grand babies. You are such a master of golden shovels. This one reads like there’s no striking line.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Catherine, I do know of the drift & discovery of those tiniest of plastics. The article about marketing brings back a childhood memory of one uncle bringing home huge “plastic” bottles, a new “miracle” he called them, the “future” he called them. No one knew what that future really held, everyone celebrated that “miracle convenience”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Catherine, wow, being with your newborn and toddler grandchildren as you wrote this makes it even more powerful. Yes, indeed: “if we can’t protect our only home for our grandchildren, for all of nature?” Thank you for your prophetic voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Those lines from Wendell Berry are so wise and so true. A perfect source of inspiration for your poem. I’m glad you were able to find a poetic form that enabled you to write about this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

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