“Planet” by Poet Catherine Pierce
Poet Catherine Pierce confronts the climate emergency head-on in her work, and even finds beauty within it. (Image: NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens; NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service)
“PLANET” BY POET CATHERINE PIERCE: To close out Poetry Month and Earth Month, poet Catherine Pierce shares her poem “Planet”. She’s the author of Danger Days and other books of poems that grapple with climate disaster.
CURWOOD: Catherine Pierce is the author of Danger Days and other books. And, to close out Poetry Month, and Earth Month, here is her poem called Planet.
PIERCE: This morning this planet is covered by winds and blue.
This morning this planet is lit with dustless perfect light,
enough that I can see one million sharp leaves
from where I stand. I walk on this planet, its hard-packed
dirt and prickling grass, and I don’t fall off. I come down
light if I choose, heavy if I choose. I never float away.
Sometimes I want to be weightless on this planet, and so
I wade into a brown river or dive through a wave
and for a while feel nothing under my feet. Sometimes
I want to hear what it was like before the air and so I duck
under the water and listen to the muted hums. I’m ashamed
to say that most days I forget this planet. That most days
I think about dentist appointments and plagiarists
and the various ways I can try to protect my body from itself.
That last weekend I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope,
its storm stripes, four of its 67 moons, and was filled
with fierce longing, bitter that instead of Ganymede or Europa,
I had only one moon floating in my sky, the moon
called Moon, its face familiar and stale. But this morning
I stepped outside and the wind nearly knocked me down.
This morning I stepped outside and the blue nearly
crushed me. This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones
and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards
with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down light today.
I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.
CURWOOD: Writer and poet Catherine Pierce teaches at Mississippi State University.
Her poem “Planet” first appeared in the Southern Review.
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