Bear Witness | Mary Lee Hahn

Sequential Landscape
Gerry Shepherd

To Be Human is to Bear Witness

Spiral milkweed pushes up green shoots
And dirt is blowing
And turbines are spinning

Oak flowers dream of acorns
And glaciers are melting
And panels are absorbing

Dandelions spread rampant joy
And wildfires are raging
And coal plants are shuttering

Hummingbirds return all abuzz
And extinctions are accelerating
And bald eagles are rebounding

This world within a world within the world
And all the excruciating truths
And every glimmer of hope

To be human is to bear witness.

“Addressing climate change
begins by actually talking about it.”
—Katherine Hayhoe
All We Can Save, p. 106

when i say addressing
i don’t mean an envelope. but if we did send climate
a letter, what could we possibly say to change
our damaged relationship? a letter typically begins
with Dear, but is that being honest? it ends by
saying Love, but we don’t actually
live that truth. maybe instead of writing we should be talking
to climate, giving an honest confession about
all we’ve done wrong, and what we will do to repair it

Witnessing the Insect Apocalypse

The windshield, once coated with bug bodies and
	 	 cleaned at every gas stop on cross country drives;
The grasshoppers, now rare, cupped in small hands and
		 dropped when they spit tobacco juice;
The sparrows on Main Street 
		 no longer cleaning the grills of farm trucks.

No fireworks of green flashes 
		 pulsing above wet ditches at forest’s edge;
No swallows following the mower on the soccer field
		 scooping lunch out of thin air;
No parsley reduced to stems
		 by black swallowtail caterpillars.

Fewer bees, lumbering flower to flower
		 weighed down by gold in their back pockets;
Fewer dragonfly, mayfly, stonefly, caddis fly nymphs
		 growing up underwater in fast-moving rivers;
Fewer trout in the same rivers
		 flashing speckled glory.

The abundance of the natural world
		 fading so slowly
		 that most
		 do not

These three poems are a part of Mary Lee Hahn’s 2022 National Poetry Month Project, “Hope In a Time of Climate Crisis,” and can be found, along with the other 27 poems, at Poetrepository.

©2022 Mary Lee Hahn
All rights reserved

Mary Lee Hahn…

…was a teacher of 4th and 5th graders for 37 years. She currently works at finding the best words for her poems, the best stitches for her embroidery, the best native perennials for her garden, and the best ways to serve her community.


Be inspired… Be creative… Be peace… Be

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