“Perhaps these thoughts of ours will never find an audience… Perhaps when all the tears have been shed, the earth will be more fertile.” Perhaps–Shu Ting, translated by Carolyn Kizer
Now that cold has returned, the earth remembers
how to freeze, the flock needs more corn,
the wood stove gobbles the sacrificed trees.
Now that joints are seized with throbbing pain
and stiffness makes me wooden, even writing
requires an inner fire not needed
on soft summer days.
Ignore the warm bed,
put down the coffee, take up the pen–
perhaps these words will go nowhere
but Shu knew we have no choice.
Grief is in the ink, the paper blanches
at today’s atrocities, the modem chokes
and won’t deliver news. Too much!
And what can a poem do?
But these cold, wrinkled hands,
too far from the woodstove, crabbing the letters
into cryptic lines – these hands refuse to stop,
to give up the pen, to curl up. Let others hibernate!
Perhaps this draft hastens the paper’s compost,
but I glow inside from Elliott, Rich, Kizer–those
who kept writing amid the turmoil and sorrow.
I can do no less.
Catherine McGuire is a writer and artist with a deep concern for our planet’s future. She has four decades of published poetry, four poetry chapbooks, a full-length poetry book, Elegy for the 21st Century (FutureCycle Press) and a de-industrial science fiction novel, Lifeline (Founders House Publishing). Find her at cathymcguire.com