Notes for an Ecologist

It is the Earth itself that is the treasure, not
what is buried in her – the shining hoards of
carbon that feed the rolling mills of the dragon.

We had a life once marked out by the rising
and the setting of the Sun, and by darkness,
with bright Moon and and dark Moon, dark cloud or stars.

To the Earth we cleaved for love and for shelter,
her stones were our hearth stones, her trees made our fires
and we cleaved the earth for a giving of seed.

Our implements bit deep into clay and marl, into
shales that resisted the shares of wood and bone
but were shattered and ground by iron and gritstone.

Our fires then were the fires of the Sun, furnaces
blazing in the heat of the day, cold blades we made
that would pierce shale and bone: steel to carry a life away.

We mined ore from the rocks, cut stone for our walls,
dug pigments for staining. Some gave blood in recompense,
others gathered wealth from wasted lives.

We painted our world with the mind’s brush
and shaped a story with sharp quills of thought,
sat back satisfied as bright day faded to night.

We viewed it all then in imagination’s starlight
waiting for dawn to bring it alive. Dawn comes
gun-barrel grey over the subdued land. We grieve.

For the knot that was tied is broken forever
though we try with gestures to the way of right-living
to be something more than brave green consumers.

We find time to mourn for the forest peoples
who prayed to Faunus before their lands were taken,
for the scattered tribes who dwindle in cities.

We have a creed now: to love the Earth,
be carbon neutral, protect the climate.
Will this bring expiation, this guilty posturing?

What of those who profit from the crimes
that revenge themselves on our children,
who impose even death vicariously?

There is no refuge, nor any sanctuary.

2 thoughts on “Notes for an Ecologist

  1. It does seem we are entering a time of ecological awareness more imposed as a creed than a genuinely felt connection with the land and its gods and spirits… ecology in the place of animism… I thought I would find more people with similar beliefs within conservation but really the two seem to be very divorced…

    1. Yes there does seem to be a disconnect between ‘Environmentalism’ as nature conservation and the concern about climate change which people pay lip-service to while continuing to live in ways are incompatible with that concern. But perhaps we are all, to varying degrees, locked into a lifestyle which is incompatible with any real change that would prevent global warming?

What do you think?