Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ring of Fire by Mary Eliza Crane

At the wane of a long season
of heat filled yellow sky,
fire consumes mountain forests
infested, decimated by bark beetles
feasting in their own changing world.
I swim deliciously in a warmer river
without current, cringing at banks
so barren I could walk across.
The water is too hot for salmon
to return upstream and spawn.

Earth degrades to dirt, crumbles in my hand.

Early spring bloomed in a riot
of fragrant hawthorn flower,
unfamiliar nesting songbirds,
rare sun, and blueberries found
and eaten before breakfast,
while deer were still bedded
down with stumbling fawns;
when drought was only a word
to justify smug satisfaction towards
the bigger state further south.

I want to have one last love affair
with the earth before we both die,
too decrepit and worn to fall
into deep passion and wet ecstasy
in one another's arms.
Give me time, I'm asking for time.
Give me soft moss, give me
great chasms of awe.
Sweep me off a windy mountain
plunge me into watery depths,
over and over again.

I remain insatiable.

I stand feebly against the apocalypse
with pickled beets and heirloom beans,
broccoli, lettuce and parsnip seed,
four cords of seasoned maple for the winter.
I stand only as tall as I dare against the machine.

Dread of the San Andreas Fault
dropping a chunk of California coast
into the sea is an old twentieth century anxiety.
Doomsday now resides in the Cascadian Subduction Zone
admiring the view, while the Juan De Fuca Plate
slides under the North American continent.

I don't want to grow old together
in futile observation of aches and pains
and broken ecosystems, losing my teeth
and my breath, while my beloved Earth
sheds species, withered and dry,
raging against the dying of the light.

I'd rather go out in one catastrophic orgasm,
landslide crashing down behind me,
vast tsunami wall rising up in front.
Great Maw, Ring of Fire, swallow me inside,
no burning keening carcass left to find.

© Mary Eliza Crane
Published with the permission of the author.

Last year, while in conversation with Mary Eliza Crane, the talk rambled over to climate change and our sense of helplessness in the face of impending doom. Mary said, "I don't know what to do with this. I love this planet." Her words stuck with me all our long hot summer, a repeating loop that began a simmering in my subconscious, a poem which refused to rise to the surface. So when I heard her read "Ring of Fire" at a Seattle open mic in September, my breath caught for just a moment— there it was, the poem I'd longed for! (And even better, I didn't have to do any of the work!)

I was immediately struck with its passion, precision, keen attention to detail and the pace at which it navigates to its subject's demise. No prissy, self-important preciousness here. This is a poem — and a poet — fearless in its assertions. A sacred anthem, a final love song to the earth.


Mary Eliza Crane is a native of New England who began writing poetry at age fourteen. She migrated to the Pacific Northwest three decades ago and settled into the Cascade foothills east of Puget Sound. Deeply and passionately in love with the natural world and rural culture, Mary's voice lives in the understory and fog of the Snoqualmie River, her poetry a fusion of the natural, personal, and political world. A regular feature at poetry venues throughout the Puget Sound region, she has read her poetry from Woodstock to LA, including opening for Graham Nash at a benefit concert in 2012.  Mary has two volumes of poetry What I Can Hold In My Hands (Gazoobi Tales Publishing, 2009) and At First Light (Gazoobi Tales Publishing, 2011). Her work has also appeared in Raven Chronicles, The Cartier Street Review, Quill and Parchment, The Far Field, and several anthologies, including Cradle Songs: An Anthology of Poetry on Motherhood by Quill and Parchment Press which won the 2013 International Book award for Best Poetry Anthology. Mary's third volume of poetry will be published by Moon Path Press in 2016.

This week's editor, T. Clear, has lived her life in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains, never more than a mile from water, under the brooding, misting skies of the Pacific Northwest. She is a founder of Floating Bridge Press, Easy Speak Seattle, and her work has appeared widely. Her poem "Repository of the Lost", in the Spring 2015 issue of Crab Creek Review, was nominated for Independent Best American Poetry Anthology.

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Jennifer Compton said...

well she quotes dylan thomas

Kata Mutiara said...

I like the poem.

do my paper for me said...

The poem is really good and deep for me. It made me see what the writer was seeing during reading this. I know that this is something that will draw someone to the passages and to the thought of the writer.