Listen to a few lines from poet Juliet Patterson.
Flared plates of trunk, a foot stalk
With a seed in its heart,
What thought burns here?
Called “Sugar Maple Winter Drought,” it’s a poem from her recent collection. She began the book after learning that birch trees in her part of Minnesota are dying as the climate changes.
Patterson: “It just sort of forced me to start digging in and researching the subject.”
As she did, Patterson felt a lot of grief. And it occurred to her that one reason people do not confront climate change may be to avoid despair.One reason people don't confront climate change may be to avoid despair. Click To Tweet
Patterson: “I got really interested in just trying to highlight maybe the emotional component of facing climate change, to try to get people to sit in that feeling-state.”
Patterson’s poems encourage us to mourn for what we might lose as the climate changes: an amphibian species, native bees … or a sugar maple tree.
The simple fact
Of some erosion
And ecology’s abolition
Thin and barren
In February’s little
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.
Sam Harrington is a freelance journalist, writer, and illustrator in Madison, Wisconsin.