Earth Day is, if anything, a day for taking the long view – a thing that seems increasingly difficult to accomplish amid the heated rhetoric of this moment. The twin cults of self-absorption and immediate gratification accelerate society through another hectic day of consumption. Taking the long view requires that we get over ourselves a little bit, a prospect that has all the appeal of a nice bowl of hot dirt.
Being a writer, I am more than usually susceptible to self-absorption and particularly ill-adapted to getting over myself. But I manage on rare occasions to break through to the long view nonetheless, and see that in the epic of deep time, I’m just one of the extras.
The seas shall rise and recede,
the glaciers wane and wax again.
In this land, called by another name,
folk will speak a tongue unknown to me.
These genes I carry will be swizzled
back into the random millions,
manifesting here in a skeptical eye
or there, a knobby knee, an undershot jaw.
These hills, in the low slow heat of time,
will flow like wax, like dunes
after the storm. Nothing will avert;
nothing will abide unchanging.
The new moon may glimmer
with the lights of cities, or not.
None can say. But however loud
my cry, or poignant my song,
no word of this prophecy will remain.