a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
We thought the forests could save us,
storing carbon in their trunks,
pulling down rain from the clouds,
but I read that trees sip water from soil
like soda straws, and more heat
can increase the pull till columns
of water break,
ending the flow, hydraulic fracture,
and what’s beyond the break dies
of thirst even in rain-drenched soil;
or, adapting to drought, a tree may close
those small breathing holes in needles
or leaves to keep what little water
it has at the cost of making food—
photosynthesis shut down, it lives
on its roots’ reserves, saved from thirst
only to starve across the next few years.
Our own breath, too, at risk as new models
show 6 C degrees of ocean warming could end
phytoplanktons’ bubbling up of oxygen
that supplies two-thirds of ours—loss large
enough to suffocate us all, while we debate
how bad could it be, two more degrees?
the Eucalyptus trees explode, resin
flaming in the wind’s hot mouth.
Robin Chapman’s ninth book of poems, Six True Things (Tebot Bach), celebrates a childhood in the territory left as camouflage for the Manhattan Project town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Her work has appeared recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Appalachia, Ascent, and Flyway. She is recipient of Appalachia’s 2010 Helen Howe Poetry Prize.