Chasing light, we ran through tall grasses— my brothers and I wrapped our fingers around fireflies sending signals in the night. Before opening our small fists and releasing those living lanterns, we imagined life as magic constellations mirrored in the bones of our wrists like Nemerov suggested in his poem Writing, our lives stretched out before us infinite because we were not yet able to imagine death of ourselves or others in a flash of lightning. Take the Beaver Take the beaver, for example, that industrious creature slowing rivers, creating wetlands absorbing toxins; beavers building dams and lodges for their kits nestled in comfort, beaver lodges with eating chambers and underwater exits and entrances; beavers with architecture so intricate yet their lives not worth their pelts, so, man took the beaver and took the beaver until that animal was nearly eradicated nationwide and replaced by man’s genius in carving up bogs, filling swamps with toxic landfills leaching into water supplies. Man’s labors speeding up rivers for hydroelectricity, destroying those carbon sinks once the domain of the beaver now in industrial development, as monstrous amounts of carbon are emitted, choking life out of the planet, but at least we have fewer beavers to deal with and those reminders of a simpler time in the face of our complex systems of waste and ruin. Earth Awakens In that moment of insight— silent movement found in descending light— latecomer red clouds— bloodred streaks in the sky—suggesting another time even another locus from this far field isolation with fading tall grasses bent and blurring figures first then thoughts into other dark. That near place— almost unreachable now— that once familiar time culled then held close from hushed memory in which distinction is blurred: the Earth awakens, our defensive projection, to destruction—lands and waters poisoned. Asking of us, to what ends? It's Getting Hotter It’s getting hotter across the planet, and grasses have turned sizzling brown as if to please a blistering sun with their burning. While an ominous shadow crosses the plains without releasing its rains—that bounty saved for a part of the country where rains are still plentiful and creeks and rivers swell until overflowing, flooding everything downstream, taking all that is left of good soil— another desert is forming. Another people in forced migration on a widening path under cover of night when it is still cool enough to walk, with their few belongings on their backs, across now barren lands toward some distant hope, toward imagined plenty, they walk knowing even the stars would reduce all to ash before they got close. This planet is getting hotter, and all of mankind is moving toward conflict and desolation: Nemesis exacting her revenge for the hubris of man foolish enough to help destroy his only habitable home. Examining My Carbon Footprint Examining the rough soles of my feet, many years into wandering, I consider my high arch, the ball of my foot that juts out too far, my narrow heel lined with callouses, and I think of being on my feet all day when I was teaching before remembering to ask, just what is my carbon footprint? That CO2 emission I personally am responsible for, endangering the planet and every life form. I think about waste and chaos, chaos and waste as the world plays itself out. I think about politicization and misinformation told by knowing men as they drilled and lied. I think about trying to reduce or just contain our wastes or use of electricity, driving my car to see my grandchildren. There are enumerated steps to follow in reducing our dangerously high CO2 emissions, but they are difficult for the individual to believe that one of us can make any difference when a single flight uses 36,000 gallons of oil. Eat less meat, plant a garden, drive less, waste less—but I’m aware our entire way of life is based upon manufactured waste as prime ingredient in profit directive. Changing how we live so hard when nearly half the population is still wrapped and insulated in conspiracies and lies, they will never consider science or knowledge of real value. And I think of the generations’ long deceptions by big oil and gas companies— looking at you, Exxon Mobil, BP, Sinopec, and Saudi Aramco whose CEOs have duped us all— with CO2 footprints large enough to fill continents. When they line up the species to examine our carbon footprints, none compare to man’s and his legacy of destruction, wars and waste, what we leave in our wide stance our stature small but out CO2 footprints those of monstrous giants stomping across the planet. But that vision is so dark as to cause giving up or giving in, so I will do neither and reduce where I can, when I can and encourage others, before going to the garden to listen for sparrows and the whistle of the osprey. Thinking About Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton first published in Nancy's collection Innermost Sea, by Finishing Line Press, 2018 About how they never got over pain, considering the ways a child’s loss worked itself up 33 bones— these vertebrae that form spine —where frustration and loss lodged in cells of dorsal root ganglia, on route to the brain where at will, Plath and Sexton could return to seasons of girls catching fire, transmitting torment into perfect articulation. No suicide girls, these women who chose immolation— even though choice implies preference when it is no more than opportunity at slivered edge. These poets let us hear the voice beneath the din, those sounds we scarcely recognize, overlapping as they are by slapping sounds on water. How to describe it exactly— fluctuating quivers of emotion and intellectual thought moving emptiness, filling void with desolation as we try to find our way by echolocation, listening, separating out cymbals because, after all, too often what we hear is just air beating on inner ear, asking to be let in. Bio: Author/poet/educator Nancy Avery Dafoe writes in multiple genres and has thirteen books, including three poetry collections, through independent publishers. Her poetry won the William Faulkner/Wisdom award in 2016, and her fiction won the short story award from New Century Writers. A member of the CNY Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, she is currently serving as second vice president of that organization.