Two Poems

Referencing Emily D in the Anthropocene


I wonder if dying will be like the first day of summer—
preoccupations of the school year
dropped as you leave the grounds

That spaciousness—
I would like to rediscover it
this side of the grave

The one clover, the bee,
and unbounded reverie
the prairie—
a once and future unfenced place

I wonder how long it will take
for those bacteria to evolve
and reproduce to a number sufficient
to consume all the plastics in the ocean—
the rafts of trash
and the tiny fibers

I’d like a shred of consciousness
equal to the emergence
of that first microscopic diner
with all the banquet to come—

I worry


a lot. Will the squirrels nip off the tops
of the tulips just like last year?

Am I right to hate them so?
Is it OK to take my sorry garden so seriously?

Even though I just say no to plastic everything,
to methane-producing pork and beef,

the zones are shifting–bark beetles now survive
these newly mild winters, voracious.

I worry about all the trees. And the fact
I can no longer remember their botanical names,
I worry about that too.

I turn off the lights, compulsively.
Drive less, take the bus
but ice shelves are still crumbling.

I worry about resistant bacteria and mass extinction
while trying hard not to care at all
about the rampant misuse of apostrophes.

I worry about the worry
I hear in your voice, long distance.
I worry about Florida.

And about that old woman out in the alley again,
singing tunelessly morning after morning.

We’re too old now, Baby, to have to worry
about adding to the population problem,
so let’s pick up where we left off

and after that take our worrying selves
out of the house, into the street.

This might be the right time to take direct action,
get arrested for the right reasons,
let squirrels be squirrels.

About Sharon Hilberer

Sharon Hilberer grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lived in Ohio, California, and North Dakota before taking up residence in Minnesota to teach English as a second language in the Minneapolis public schools. A language geek from the get-go, her poems grow out of current events, overheard and remembered conversations, and from paying attention to the natural world.

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