Like many baby boomers, I recall a time when an unusually warm spring day was something to relish, not cause for anxiety about climate change.
My spouse, scientist Stephen Mulkey, is fond of saying, “Weather and climate are not the same thing,” but it’s natural for folks to experience weather as a harbinger of good or bad fortune, or of the changes to come.
The rainbow, the stormclouds, the hurricane, the cloudless sky, the tornado — all these have an emotional resonance for us. Because climate change is so centered on prediction, we can’t help but tie weather and climate together.
The industrial revolution sparked an interest in preserving the natural environment, an interest that continues today. One poem specifically in response to the industrial revolution is Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “God’s Grandeur.” Hopkins was a Jesuit priest who saw miracles in Nature and his God’s hand in all of those miracles.
Today, there are a number of magazines centered on environmental concerns that publish poetry. These include Orion, Terrain, and Ecotone, to name a few.
The day the American government vowed to withdraw from the Paris Accord, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change published a new issue (28.2), which includes my poem, Gift Horse. I admit to being influenced by that science dude I’m married to!
Mid-century, an early spring meant
taking off our shirts between the dunes in April,
desperate as we were to air our skin out
after months cocooned in wool. Even the sand
felt good, scratching our backs. We crossed our arms
behind our heads and watched the mare’s-tail clouds
brush the blue from the sky. Those stretches
of mild weather out of season — such gifts,
we never thought to check their teeth.