The Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica: (pictured below right)
“This Antarctic glacier may be history, says new research. It contains almost two feet of sea level rise, and that’s just the beginning. NASA.” ( by Chris Mooney)
(Posted for my friend Rolf)
“And death shall have no dominion…
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again.” Dylan Thomas.
I almost hear them go,
The growlers breaking off,
Into the rising sea.
Chile’s Jorge Montt,
Or Athabascar in the north.
They’ve shaped the awesome
Valleys of my world.
A boy in Borrowdale
An old man now in Maam
They’ve made the way
My Earth flows,
From high bog, mere soakage,
A dialogue with cloud
And then the sudden spring
Into all the frozen architecture
Of that now empty space,
The wide cathedralled space,
That seems too large to hold me.
While the small stream swells,
A last turbulence,
That finally falls and flows,
Flows to the full-fathomed sea.
I ride astride a dolphin’s back
Deeper with pearled eyes,
Look up to greet
The dark-brown gaze
Of one, last, white, bear.
Notes: An ecological poem but also a personal poem about death, or perhaps a contemplation of death; both the glacier’s dying and of course my own. In the final six lines I was thinking (though you don’t need to know this) about two poems about death that I love because they treat death and decay as transformational. The first is Ariel’s Song from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” :
“Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange….”
The second is “Byzantium” by W.B. Yeats. In the last stanza he sees the souls of the dead being carried to Hades on the backs of dolphins:
“Astraddle on the dolphin’s mire and blood,
Spirit after spirit! The smithies break the flood.
The golden smithies of the Emperor!
Marbles of the dancing floor
break bitter furies of complexity,
Those images that yet
Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.”
(from “The Winding Stair and Other Poems” this poem written 1930)