By Rae Hoffman Jager
To David Wallace-Wells
While we slept, awoke, and made oatmeal,
went to work, walked the dog, and so on,
A crack in the ice shelf grew 11 mile—
raced the ocean where it dropped
with a titanic splash no one heard.
As we make messes, more icebergs calve far off—
tons of carbon released and along with it
prehistoric bacteria and bugs with tentacles
and tusks two feet long.
Even the Doomsday seed vault isn’t safe.
Just years after being built on Spitsbergen,
it flooded. Those small hearts were salvaged,
but that’s not the point—every day
we arm the planet with hotter,
dirtier breath to gag us with.
Is your ulcer heating up yet? —
Bangladesh won’t last the century. Soon,
Mecca will be pan-fried and Haj, a death march.
I guess there is some irony in that we are a lot like ice,
though there is less and less of it to be found: cold,
full of dangerous gas, and indignantly indentured.
Not all the prayers in the world will rehydrate
the kidneys of the El Salvadorian sugar cane fields,
the wilted grains of the west, and dried up river beds—
Author’s note: This is a found poem with words from David Wallace-Wells’ New York magazine article, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” that got the Internet defensive and feeling existential dread.
Rae Hoffman Jager has been in a variety of magazines from Arsenic Lobster to Ambit. In 2014, she won the Cincinnati Library Contest and in 2016 for her poem Tattoos, she read in Salina, Kansas as the New Voice Poet. Rae was named “Reader’s Pick” by Rivet Journal for her poem “Getting Closer to It,” and she joined their poetry staff shortly after. Her chapbook One Throne was released by Five Oaks Press this summer and is available on Amazon and the Five Oaks Press website. Rae’s work has been described as rambunctious, urgent, funny, and elegiac. Visit her website at www.raehoffmanjager.com.
Photo credit: NASA