Dear Human



Dear Human at the Edge of Time
A Community Poem

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Say, anyone here 
seen a jumpfrog lately? Not the saucy poster frogs

making the circuit of nature museums, but the hearty bulls 
who advertised their longing, who puffed up

and peed in your berry-stained hands. 

Who can deny that sea stars are stunning?
The way their arms sparkle with jewels, the way
they regenerate. I have only so many limbs
and I can’t grow back what I’ve lost.

When did we lose our way 
to a place where we value
roads over rivers, parking lots 
over prairies, resorts over reefs?
It doesn’t seem like you should be able to hold panic 
like a too-full cup. But all day it sloshes
and slips inside of me.                

These days it’s all about walking lightly
on this earth, listening to all 
who are speaking beyond words.              

If the songbirds can still sing,
then we can still hope.           

If the roots of the old pines
protruding from the asphalt slow
your walk, then stop to thank them
for this moment, to steady the feet,
to look beyond the wire fences
where wild wheat glows golden
and soft in the sun, as if
discovering what light can do
for the first time.                 

Have you heard the whispers that ride 
along the breeze and come out in the rustle of the leaves?
That live in the dew drops as they sparkle on the morning grass,
in the atoms that vibrate to make apple skins and shrimp shells?
They travel through the sun’s rays and come out in refractions.
Have you heard the whispers?
Listen, they are everywhere.

I’ve found a way to pray. Through my feet, 
I reach down. There’s something animate, 
mycelial, that touches me back. It’s a species 
of love, a thinking-spike, a zinging circuit of energy.                       

And what if we could stop it, after all,

could stop the change too swift for us to grasp, 
listening instead to the maple’s sweet dusk 
drip in the metal bucket?                     

Can we learn to live in sync with nature
and in harmony with one another?   

The stranger asked: what has kept you from singing?
I had no answer save for this melody within me, rising and rising. 

Look inward
at that core of ourselves.
Remember our past,
and decide who
we wish to be.

When we tell the story
of how we survived the collapse, 
we might say: 
like birds, we learned
to move as one.
We grew lighter
and lengthened our wings.


Dear Human at the Edge of Time

Featuring art from Art x Climate, a project of
the Fifth National Climate Assessment

Compiled by Aileen Cassinetto and David Hassler

Sheri Reda, Chicago, IL
Cindy Veach, Snoqualmie, WA
Emily Iskin, Boise, ID
Caitlin Gildrien, Leicester, VT
Diana Woodcock, Keswick, VA
Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Norfolk, VA
Gabriela Igloria, Norfolk, VA
A.C., Kent, OH
Lesley Wheeler, Lexington, VA
Kate Cell, Shutesbury, MA
D. L. Lang, Vallejo, CA
Cynthia T. Buiza, Los Angeles, CA
Jamie L. Molaro, Altadena, CA
Anna Bartel, Ithaca, NY