Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Beauty, Nature, and Habitat Loss

Earlier this morning, I decided it was time to write a poem again.  Over the past month or two, I've written bits and pieces and even a stanza or two, but I've worried about my follow-through when it comes to actually finishing a poem.

Today I pushed on, even though I had to keep beating back distractions.  I thought about our pre-Halloween swim in the unheated pool--October 29, and we're in the pool for more than a quick dip, which is almost unheard of, even in South Florida.  I thought about trick-or-treaters and the costumes that they wear that are ancient vestiges of what used to haunt/scare us.

I thought about modern fears and wrote this line:  How does one dress as habitat loss?

At the same time I was writing, I got a Facebook message from a friend who has a vision for a small collection of poems and photographs.  She asked if I wanted to contribute--I said yes.  I asked if she had a theme.  She said "all nature related."

I immediately thought about all the poems I've written about the last bird singing to non-existent mates just before going extinct.  Then my friend specified:  "nothing on the sadder slant - no earth destruction or animal suffering"--just beauty.

Well, I'll have to go through my poems.  I suspect that I'll find that most of my poems that have anything to do with nature are tinged with sadness through and through.

I thought of the strangeness of writing about beauty and nature while working on my poem that begins this way

"On the day that the last bird
of its species trills its final song"

and ends this way:

"The sea will come to claim
these stones too.  The dead will float
away.  Who will come
to swim in the ruins?"

I thought of all the poets who have come before me, who have wrestled with similar issues, whether to commit to beauty or to striving for social justice.  Should poetry change the world by making us appreciate the beauty?  Should poets change the world by pointing out injustice?

I have always been committed to trying to do both.  If we appreciate the beauty of the earth, maybe we'll work harder to save it. If we can't save that which is beautiful, perhaps we can capture the beauty before it leaves us forever.

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