Climate Change

Climate Change


I finally understood climate change

when I came home, walked in the door,

and felt the atmosphere.


Not global warming anymore.

Climate change.

It doesn’t always get hotter,

just more extreme

and more severe.


Storms full of the

angry forked lightning of words,

flashes from nowhere.

I count the seconds to thunder.

Once there would have been flowers growing.


And drought,

weeks and months without water,

nothing growing between us,

planted on opposite ends of the couch,

Netflix streaming,

the irony of binge watching 

when no one is being fed

and a once fertile field

has fallen fallow.


Your shoulders are colder,

and polar vortices descend.

Once it was news when this occurred.

Now it just happens again 

and again.


I know how this happened -

my daily pollution,

the casual choices I made:

too late home from work,

too late to bed, too many papers to grade,

the bite of too many jokes better left unsaid.


350 parts per million, the borderline

of carbon we can sprew into the sky

before life is unlivable.

How does a marriage end?

Slowly, and slowly, and then all at once,

and it’s all in a fog

but it’s my factories that put it there,

churning out things I thought

I needed.


The air is at 400 now.

We passed the border.

We knew what it was.

We kept on going.


CNN spins solar stories and we watch the wind,

clean coal, meatless Mondays,

making movies where

Al Gore stands in front of Powerpoints.


We go to therapy.

We talk it out.


But carbon, it stays in the sky for centuries.

The daily damage we do is so small.

We do not even see it at the moment of its creation,

but it remains

and nothing can scrub it clean.


CNN talks less about stopping climate change

than adapting to it,

and I think of levees I could have built.

I think about my children on the tide.

How do I keep the coastline of us intact?

How do I hold the flood waters back?


Mostly I am sorry.

Sorry for each inevitable choice I made.

Sorry I could not divest myself of poison.

Sorry I did not make more beauty.

Sorry I took this world for granted.


Still, I am here

on the surface of a planet whose climate is changing.

I feel the balance shifting.


I hope we will survive.


This poem is about: 
My family
Our world


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