(im)permanence: what i learned in elementary school

there was always sun
& the rhythm of seasons
in shortening & lengthening light
falling & rising temperature
patterns set as days,
the stubborn optimism
of each sunrise;
the slow showy fade into twilight
at its setting.  the insistence
of spring & the inevitability of ice

this was before i learned
we could punch holes
in the atmosphere, before I could spell
atmosphere & ozone, before
carbon had footprints
& garbage just went somewhere else,
before i understood
the ground beneath my feet
could shudder & split open
like a melon & that sun,
that constant thing
could some day go out
with a snap like a burned out bulb
& no replacing it

i came home from school
& told my mother what fragile things
we counted on.  she laughed
& told me not to worry, that we both
would end long before the world did,
as if that was any comfort
for a ten-year-old

because instead of worrying about the planet
i could now think instead about us,
our own very real fragility

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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24 Responses to (im)permanence: what i learned in elementary school

  1. Trent Lewin says:

    Good thoughts Susan, and so true. It is amazing what we are doing to the planet isn’t it? And then what we do with the efforts to mitigate… nowadays, carbon footprint has turned into carbon credits, and we are down a path where we commercialize saving the planet. You just have to put a price on it is all… So sad. At this rate, I am not sure that we will leave behind much that will be viewed gladly by the future.

  2. Bruce Ruston says:

    Splendid write and I agree with both of you

  3. davidtrudel says:

    Great poem Susan – I liked how you brought the very immediate issue of climate change and other risks to our existence back to you as a 10 year old confronting the impermanence of everything.

  4. BroadBlogs says:

    Impermanence and climate change. I’m struck how many of us only care about ourselves and not the future.

  5. mimijk says:

    This is awesome Susan…perhaps our mothers’ responses were a function of the time – not understanding the implications of our current actions on the future..

  6. Seb says:

    When I was in elementary school, a week seemed like forever. Time was, indeed, relative!

  7. Green Speck says:

    I could relate to this :-)

  8. I wasn’t allowed to really attend elementary because of my disease but this piece is a stamp on my past experience as well ~ Blessings

  9. nelle says:

    Those moments when we realise our humanity, it comes with that first grasp of mortality and a need for care. My first hard hit came on a Thanksgiving, when I realised just what cooked in our oven.

  10. À rude awakening.. Beautiful!

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