Letter to the ice sheets

We thought you were death –
a sterile sheet covering
a corpse. I mean, men went to you
to die, monsters leaping
from floe to floe, men failing,
flailing, calling themselves heroes.

Now we know, you are the hero –
your embrace contains
the oceans, your cold arms
brace against the deluge –
you are not separate, you are part
of the great pattern –

and we are grubby idiots,
poking our sticks at things
that we don’t understand,
tearing and breaking. We are
shattering the web, stuffing
shreds of foolishness
into our gaping pockets –

we watch the polar bear
swimming towards the ice –
swimming and swimming.
Oh, we say, oh, it’s too much –
too sad.
We turn our backs –
eat one more cake,
drink one more can,
buy one more t-shirt.

We leave the room,
leave on the lights

A poem for Sherry at earthweal.

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12 thoughts on “Letter to the ice sheets

  1. This is too true, Sarah! I’ve just polished off a slice of cake and a coffee: what am I really doing to make a difference? It’s a huge disaster and we are all implicated.

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  2. we are grubby idiots,
    poking our sticks at things
    that we don’t understand… love your poem, Sarah. And I agree with Ingrid, those who have stood by silently and watched, I among them, are just as much to blame.

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  3. “Now we know, you are the hero –
    your embrace contains
    the oceans, your cold arms
    brace against the deluge – ”
    A blanket is not a shroud, and life-feeding life is not a resource. How powerfully you write. We who have only words as tools have to use them this way. Thank you.

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  4. This is why verse letters work magic – to personify the object approaches metaphor from the inside. And this brother ice in sister north is a lost one, to be sure. It makes our human mastery the puny taunt of fools. Great poem, Sarah.

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