Kerstin Zu Pan / Trunk Archive

Love Songs for Nature’s Kind

Introduction by Daphne Chouliaraki Milner

Poems courtesy of Poets for the Planet

A curation of poems and songs to celebrate Mother Earth, who is so often overlooked during the most romantic time of the year.

Editor’s Note: This month’s edition of EarthTones does not include a Spotify playlist at the request of Poets for the Planet due to the music platform’s public endorsement of Joe Rogan.

 

Every year, over 200 million roses are produced in preparation for Valentine’s Day in the U.S alone. Many more are flown in from Latin American countries like Ecuador and Colombia where the climate is warmer and labor costs are cheaper. In 2018, The Washington Post reported that Colombia flew more than four billion flowers to the U.S., many of them in the lead-up to the popular holiday. Although such flowers are given to loved ones as tokens of appreciation, respect, devotion, and care every February, the environmental cost is huge.

 

For example: reporting by The Post revealed that 30 cargo jets carrying more than a million flowers each fly from Colombia to Miami every day for the three weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. This means the release of roughly 5,700 kg of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere on a daily basis. Moreover, flowers are then transported across the U.S. in refrigerated trucks, which require 25% more fuel than regular trucks, according to reporting by Vox. That’s not to say we shouldn’t celebrate holidays like Valentine’s Day, but thinking about how and why we choose to participate matters.

 

And so, at Atmos, we have chosen to spend Valentine’s Day celebrating our love for Mother Earth—who is so often overlooked during the most romantic day of the year. We are doing so in collaboration with Poets for the Planet, a community of poets and creative activists dedicated to fighting the climate and ecological emergency with words. Together, we have curated a collection of sonnets and love poems that explore our symbiotic relationship with the Earth, and compiled a track list filled with energizing, upbeat songs to celebrate the joys of the natural world.

oceans of love

by Alwyn Marriage

This huge expanse of time and space

appears to separate, until we understand

that all the oceans of the world

flow into one another, so that as I stand,

twelve thousand miles from home,

this water is in fact the substance

that is joining us — particles paired

with particles in a close conjunction

multiplied many times to reach

those you are touching now.

 

I can’t swim that far

but can immerse my hand

in ripples that stretch out

in your direction, feel love flow

through depths and storms

and unimaginable distance

to where you’re gazing out to sea,

remembering the happiness we’ve shared,

counting the months we’ve been apart,

and wishing you could reach me.

Grammar of a ring

by Alwyn Marriage

This ring has not worn thin,

or lost much of its shine.

It is a public sign

that I’m already

permanently paired

and therefore not available.

 

It is a symbol of our love

for one another, given and received

by two young optimists

nearly half a century ago.

There could be other symbols —

shared cup, pink heart, tied knot

— but this gold band

is the one most of us understand.

 

It’s like the rolling sphere

of time, a simile suggesting

all the years we’ve been a pair,

and our hope that we will still

be going round together

as the years spin by.

 

But more than a sign, a simile or symbol,

this ring’s a metaphor:

it’s made of earth’s most precious metal,

has been worn smooth by years of sharing,

fits snugly, is always there,

carries a hint of sexual union,

— has no ending.

Rewilding the Body

by Rachael Clyne

Based on Isobel Tree’s account of rewilding Knepp House Farm.

The ribs of my country jut,

its dreams tilled to exhaustion.

by intensively farmed ambition.

Let thistle stitch my wounds,

and painted-lady caterpillars feast

on their prickles.

 

Let pigs unzip my paths,

with cracks for bastard toadflax

and meadow-cleary.

 

Let ragwort flourish

as one hundred and seventy-seven insect species

thrive on its bad reputation.

Let longhorn cattle tramp

hoof-print pools for fairy shrimp,

water crowfoot, stonewort.

 

And one moonlit night – nightingales

will return to fill my country

with their song.

Step warily, my dear

by Rachael Clyne

on slippery earth-paths

that thread uphill

past ivied trunks

away from a world

of shotgun crack

and quad bike roar.

Lift your head instead

to light that catches

silver on hazel bark.

 

If, my friend

you find yourself

wire-barred

backtrack down

bottom-slide

clutch each

handhold branch

offered to you

by soft-voiced

strangers.

 

Learn, my friend

to avoid the lure

of sticky situations.

If their mire sucks you in

wave your wing tips

let the pull of air tide

uplift you all the way

to the hillfort crown.

 

Rest there, my love

on an old horse trough.

Gaze at dainty deer tracks

by your feet and scrutinise

badger sgraffito.

Listen to rooks chatter

feel your body fizz.

Now you are human-imal,

mudful of mind.

Cinema Paradiso

by Claire Booker

When Alfredo lets the film fly on its beam of light,

I Pompieri di Viggiù comes to roost

on a tenement block, rippling the hard lines

of masonry. Isn’t love sleight of hand after all?

 

You and I, in rainy Islington, among discrete

coughs and rustles, spoon Sicily’s raw energy

into our souls. Giant faces undulate over shutters

in the hot body of night. A couple on the cliff edge

 

of passion, lips parted, noses positioned, close in

for the . . .  Twenty years, and they’ve never

let us see a kiss! wails an old Sicilian; the withheld

moment like a slap across the wrists.

 

How we laugh, as the priest rings his hand bell

and Alfredo snips each corrupting frame.

Kisses drop to the floor, shiny as snakes; alive

in our minds as only the unsaid can be.

IF

by Shanta Acharya

If the universe had not been Love’s creation,

life and light born in an unimaginable explosion –

we would not exist.

 

If the Milky Way and the dust of dying stars

did not scatter in space, in love’s reincarnation –

we would not exist.

 

If the sun and moon did not send their rays to earth,

awakening us to worlds beyond our imagination –

we would not exist.

 

If our sky did not gift us with the gods of weather,

protecting us from space debris and radiation –

we would not exist.

 

If our planet did not revolve round its axis,

inner and outer cores locked in lovers’ passion –

we would not exist.

 

If day and night did not daily renew their vows,

blessing us with light and darkness for our preservation –

we would not exist.

 

If water did not enthral us with the miracle

of creation, the beginning of life and evolution –

we would not exist.

 

If plants did not produce oxygen for no reason

except the pure joy of breathing in carbon –

we would not exist.

 

If every species did not have a purpose for being

here, their lives worthy of celebration –

we would not exist.

 

If nature’s bounty and resilience did not go about

scattering the seeds of hope and compassion –

we would not exist.

 

If greed and ignorance, pride and power

stand in the path of enlightenment and realisation –

we will cease to exist.

SONG OF PRAISE

by Shanta Acharya

from prayers in different traditions

Praise the stars in their constellations

for knowing their place, yet blessing all migrations.

 

Praise the sun, powerful, yet unwavering

in its journey across the sky, light pulsing

through clouds, mists – life sustaining.

 

Praise the moon always true, waxing waning,

constant in its daily transformation.

 

Praise the earth as it moves on its axis –

inner and outer cores holding on to each other,

partners on the dance floor, steady as they go.

 

Praise day and night, mere limits of our perception;

and death, a release from our earth-bound vision.

 

Praise the sky, air, ether; praise the universe

for awakening us to worlds beyond our imagination.

 

Praise water in all its forms, giving and taking –

blood flowing through continents of bodies.

 

Praise plants sun-facing, light-changing,

breathing in carbon, green deities in meditation,

giving us oxygen, expecting nothing in return.

 

Praise the eye of the guest – clear, observant.

Praise the giver of life – almighty, benevolent.

 

Praise every species in our planet

masterpieces of evolution –

rich, rare, wild, keepers of infinite secrets.

Storm Arwen

by M. Anne Alexander

Our pylons fell down.

Our trees fell down.

Our power was lost.

 

Buzzards fell from the sky,

feasting from entangled wires

that felled lives beyond our ken.

 

Soldiers fell in, powerless as engineers,

but, taking their cue from neighbours,

venturing in with water, warmth, care,

 

while starlings called

and huddled together,

leading the restoration.

Woods: for sale

by M. Anne Alexander

Greened claws grip and

a sinewed trunk lies

along the ground

to a knotted knee

of an old beech tree,

driven down by

long-since silenced winds

 

but its trunk curves still

and from its loins a tree rises

straight and tall towards the sun

and a copse of cousins

clings close around …perhaps

sprung from fallen seeds or, maybe,

from roots below the ground.

 

Another fallen beech lies

in a darker place.

Its trunks twist and intertwine

till they twirl and shoot

towards the sky…

though its roots appear

long since wrenched away.

 

Dark caverns underlie torn roots.

We can’t see where they lead,

nor what subterranean lives

sustain one another here. Nor

can we imagine what is to happen

to the wyrd web of life in this ancient wood,

about to endure the ruthless roar of a chainsaw.

Nature’s kind

by M. Anne Alexander

Badger cubs, born early in the year,

blink into full-flushed Spring, when

food abounds – in good time

to fatten for the winter to come,

 

unless killed by dominant sows

or males unsure of their paternity:

what is it that turns Nature’s ways

red in tooth and claw?

 

Mine, mine are the genes

that I, I determine

should survive to the end of time;

but why?

Here on

Earth

by Kevin Wright

A sense of

belonging

where I stand

My hand

scoops earth

of forebearers

from below my

feet

Its faith

exudes

through my

fingers

Streaming

through body,

kin and all

 

This place of

sanctuary

Our world

remains

unquestioning,

it needs our

support

Where you

and I, live and

love

And one day

become the

earth

Seeing Stars

by Michele Witthaus

Pulling over on a ridge,

we gazed down over the city.

Too much glare, we agreed.

 

On we drove, ever higher,

until we found a lookout spot

beyond the reach of street lights.

 

Later, when we recalled that night,

you described the joy

of seeing a star streak earthwards.

 

I smiled but said nothing.

I’d missed it because

my eyes were fixed on you.

All Weather Friends

by Peter Raynard

I remember my childhood as always being sunny

but it was only the summer of ’69 that was hot.

Climate’s grip was still loose, before the factories

began coughing up soot. Our two up two down

backed onto the school playground and I would call

my mother, to bring out the jammy dodgers

or custard creams to the school fence at lunchtime

to feed me and my hungry friends, like pets at a zoo.

At that bright age friendships were built on tricks

and games, who made you laugh the most,

the most silly, most naughty. Grammar school

entrance meant none of those boys stayed mates.

I forged long term friendships in my twenties

in pubs, clubs, on football fields, and at gigs.

Friends for more than forty years. Seen the many worlds

with them, marriage and kids, though some passed

on by whilst the earth began to blaze. Most

are layered with hot days and cold, trying to keep

up with the weather, as power hungry people

eat away at the earth’s burning soul.

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