Lines Written After Completing an Article on the Speeding of Greenland’s Ice Melt

Sometimes I weary of writing of endings.
I want only to describe this sunny January walk,
This golden retriever leaping nose-first
Towards my outstretched hand
While her human tugs her back, apologizing.
Or this flash of orange cat
Cutting my path so I veer off
To follow him onto the sidewalk
Where he turns and glowers
Till I move on.

The day is cold, but bright
Reminding me there’s more brightness to come.
The high noon sun emits the kind of light
That makes you stand up straight, that holds you to account,
And, damn:
The sky’s the blue of meltwater,
The few white clouds all gleam like ice,
So I cannot forget the work I came from,
Reporting that Greenland is melting four times faster
Than it was just fifteen years ago
When I was still in high school and first learning I was growing
Into a self-destroying way of life.

Last night I had a dream
That I was looking up at mountains
Fighting their peaks above gray clouds
Like bald eagles thrusting their beaks
Against the rain.
But there was too much bone; not enough feather
In their profiles,
Gray rocky shadows larger
Than highlights of snow.
And all of us knew, looking out the wide, wide window
What that meant.
It meant in just six months, the rivers would stop running
And the salmon would flop and dry
And the pastures would crack
And the forests would burn
Until, one day, we’d turn on the taps,
No water would drip out,
And, within a week, we would all die.

Someone turned the lights out, then,
To conserve energy
Against the inevitable fade,
But why?
Those mountains were as final in their deadliness
As if they had erupted then and there
And buried us all in mud and flame.

Of course it will not even come that fast.
But I don’t know—
Passing the dogs and the dog walkers
And the skittish cats
And the construction workers smoking under scaffolding
And the woman putting out her flowers in water buckets
Beside the ice cream parlor—
I don’t know if any of this can still be saved
Or if we are living in the breath
Before the last.

Image Halorache / CC BY-SA 3.0

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