Young Mountains

Crumpled earth,
landmasses crunched like
stiff brown shopping bags,
rough edges,
uneven surfaces,
crevasses deep fissured,
peaks high soaring.

You are young mountains.

Born of drifting continents,
lands we like believe are stable;
but the quiescence is illusion,
for year on year pushed
and rammed you grow
as the rocks continue
to grate and tear each other.

You are young mountains.

Snow drifted,
snow leopard haunted,
wind ravaged and ice tormented,
rocks slide and snowpack
tumbles terror trapping
the unwary who brave
your craggy slopes for summits,
forbidding foreboding
to deter determined actions.

You are young mountains.

We prod you in weariness,
seeking ways to scale your mass,
because you are there and we are here,
sharing a planet hurling
through space as bulk hurtles
bulk together shaping
reforming making your contours
over and over minutely in increments.

You are young mountains.

You are also made of old stone souls
deep in shadow and bathed in thin light,
and if we would but attend,
you have lessons to teach us:
about the limits of permanence and hubris.
and the cycles of rifts and vaunting,
for we are kin living upon
your ancient rocky ancestors,
your great mineralised predecessors.

You are young mountains,
and we are most of all
foolish young beings of the land.

The first line of this poem came to me first thing this morning when I turned on my computer and the photo as it woke up was of some craggy mountains.

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Triggered Thoughts

Yesterday, we were moving about some bits and pieces to put things in storage. One of the bits was an awkward shaped piece of plywood. I was helping carry it. I had not finished dressing and did not yet have on my socks and shoes. But I was summoned to help move this piece of wood. So, I stepped into the breach.

It was fine until we got to the hallway, when my grip slipped and the wood came down and scraped about in inch square of skin off the bottom of my shin, just above the ankle. I made my pain and upset unmistakeable and sobbing went up to find the arnica thingies, and tea tree to put on the scrape and a plaster to cover the place so I wouldn’t rub it when it did put on my socks and shoes.

As I was weeping from the pain the only thing beside it that I thought about was Hypatia of Alexandria. She was an amazing woman, a Greek mathematician, astronomer, inventor, and philosopher, who lived in Egypt in late fourth and early fifth century of the Common Era. Caught up in a power struggle between factions in Egypt at the time, she was set upon by a mob of Christians and killed.

I know this story from the TV version of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, where he was walking around a virtual Library of Alexandria, and spoke of Hypatia. I can still hear his voice telling the story. He said that Bishop Cyril set the mob on Hypatia who ambushed her on the way to the Library, which was also destroyed, and flayed her alive. His closing comment, after lamenting all that was lost to the world then and now by her death and the Library’s destruction, spoken in a bitterly ironic tone was: ‘And they made Cyril a saint.’

I thought of this story because of how much having just one inch of my skin torn off hurt and then tried to extrapolate how much more gruesome and agonising it would have been for poor Hypatia, with all of her skin being torn from her body.

It gave me pause to think about many things as well. The way certain animals are skinned, not always dead or stunned, for their fir or hide. How humans torture each other. I wept not only for me but for all of that pain and misery and terror humans inflict on not only our own kind but our other than human kin as well.

It was a sobering twenty minutes or so spent in the tending my hurt shin and subsequent pondering on those things, before I can back down the stairs to finish doing what I had begun before being called way. I continued to consider all those things for the rest of the day.

One never knows what one incident or accident can trigger. The thought and reflection repercussions an event can set in motion.

My ankle is bruised and the skinned bit is healing, but my awareness is in an expanded place that I cannot return from, nor would I want to do so.

The Last Dark Moon

They say, those who know such things, that that tomorrow will be the last Dark Moon visible from Earth.

Don’t ask how I know this information, just trust that my source is impeccable and beyond all doubting. No one would listen to me in any case, but I wanted to leave a record, not that there will be anyone ever to read it, but I will have said my piece.

That is important to me.

For several years now people have been preparing to flee Earth, making the necessary preparations to abandon the only place humans have every lived. They do this because Earth has become virtually uninhabitable. The air is foul, the water poisoned, the land denuded of trees. There are no birds to speak of or sing any more, and no longer any large, and few small, mammals on land or in the sea. I will not run the list, everyone knows. Everyone saw it coming and those who had the power to alter the outcome did nothing. They did nothing because it would risk their wealth and privilege. So death ruled and extinction became so common place that one more loss, by the end, was any longer mourned.

But, I mourned. I wept for the world as it was becoming. I grieve for the world that has become. And though I wanted to stop what was happening, I had no real power. I could stop buying this or that product, but it made no real difference. To the end I never stopped trying in my own little way.

I have a room in my home with photos of all those who are gone. For as long as someone remembers them, they still exist, at least in my heart. A heart so full of sadness, brimming over with memory of the lost ones.

In all of this, though, I could look up into the stars at night, especially when the power failed, which it did with increasing regularity as the fuels ran out and there were no more resources to strip from the body of Earth. I could look up and see the stars, watch the constellations wheel through the night sky in their dances of destiny and order. I could look up at the Moon and watch the phases, in and out, increase and diminishment.

The last phase of preparation before beginning the evacuation of Earth will be to throw on all the lights so people we know that they are heading; they will see the clusters of lights and be reassured. Of course only the wealthy and the young are being allowed to go. If one cannot pay for passage one can sign on in a renewed form of indentured servitude. Already the new phase of human endeavour begins with slavery, but they have a some fancy name for it that I don’t recall, and besides people have been used to other kinds of indebtedness for generations now to buy homes and to furnish them with stuff.

None of that really concerns me, what concerns me is what taking away the Dark Moon will do to people’s souls. Granted they will look back on a dark Earth, but it is not the same. Not the same at all. The Moon was for most of human existence a place of mystery, variously a god or goddess. The force of tides that for too long have brought our rubbish and death to the shores where people have not been near for years, for they became too toxic a long time ago.

The last time the New Moon will rest in the arms of the old, as I understand one long vanished native people called the Dark Moon. The New Moon will be forever tarnished, and I will have lived to see that night. Those who can leave will look up and celebrate. They will congratulate themselves on being fortunate enough to go there in the next few months. They will not understand that what they leave was once so beautiful and pristine, and even before they arrive, the Moon was littered with human debris.

We are a wasteful and wasting species. None of that will change as we go off to exploit other worlds. I can envisage a chain of ruined worlds over the next however many millennia. What a terrible legacy.

And tomorrow is the Last Dark Moon, forever. The power running the lights will be able to carry on even after humans embark for worlds farther away.

A very few people will still populate the Earth, but not for too many more generations. All the wealth and all the will to keep Earth viable is on its way, away.

And tomorrow is the Last Dark Moon, when all the stars will sing their song of glory one last time, for once the moon is lighted there will be no phases, it will always be light. No waxing. No waning. No deep mystery. No wonder. Only night as light as day. No night any longer either.

I imagine that any creatures left on Earth will die from lack of the basic patterns of their beings. No dark. No rest. No night. No repose. Even if artificially created dark is possible the energy of all that light will still insinuate itself through every conceivable space. There will be no escaping it.

I shall stay up the whole night, the last real night. The night of the Last Dark Moon.

Perhaps, if I am blessed my heart will burst from sadness and the lost ones can die in peace with me.