Ada Limón on our Climate in Crisis
A Poem for the #ClimateVisionaries Artists' Project for Greenpeace
by Ada Limón
half-burned from the fires, half-alive from nature’s need to propagate
On the top of Mount Pisgah, on the western
slope of the Mayacamas, there’s a madrone
tree that’s half-burned from the fires, half-alive
from nature’s need to propagate. One side
of her is black ash and at her root is what
looks like a cavity that was hollowed out
by flame. On the other side, silvery green
broadleaf shoots ascend toward the winter
light and her bark is a cross between a bay
horse and a chestnut horse, red and velvety
like the animal’s neck she resembles. I have
been staring at the tree for a long time now.
I am reminded of the righteousness I had
before the scorch of time. I miss who I was.
I miss who we all were, before we were this: half
alive to the brightening sky, half dead already.
I place my hand on the unscarred bark that is cool
and unsullied, and because I cannot apologize
to the tree, to my own self I say, I am sorry.
I am sorry I have been so reckless with your life.
As we begin this critical new year in the fight against climate change, Greenpeace is giving over space on our channels to authors and artists working within the climate crisis. Acclaimed author Lauren Groff prompted artists and thinkers to write essays and art about climate change for us, and so every day this month we’ll have a new piece from that project that addresses, in some form, what it means to create in the midst of this crisis. The forces fueling climate change have the most powerful networks in history pumping out their devastating propaganda at unimaginable scale. It’s going to take everything we have from all of us – imagination equal to the task – to create the climate we’ll need to stop the crisis.
We need these voices and these visions, but they won’t be enough. We need you, too. We encourage you to check back on the Climate Visionaries Artists’ Project every day to see what’s new, and to join the conversation by sharing your work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and tagging it #ClimateVisionaries.