A Poem for the 50th Earth Day

Today is Earth Day #50, but it will not be a celebration of our planet’s beauty and bounty. Nor will we march in protest of the many governments still lacking the political will to turn us back from our current path, one which is headed inexorably toward mass extinction.

This Earth Day we are staying home to save our families, friends, communities and ourselves from the more immediate danger of Covid-19. This is a precious day in which to reflect on where we are now, and where we want to go.

Jane Hirshfield (1953 – ) was born in New York City. She is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Of Gravity & Angels, The Beauty, and her most recent book, Ledger. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets (2012-2017).

I chose her poem for this Earth Day because we all owe a debt to our planet, which can only be paid by taking better care of our one and only home.

Please click to read Jane Hirshfield’s poem, “My Debt.”

My Debt

by Jane Hirshfield 

Like all
who believe in the senses,
I was an accountant,

Not registrar,

Permitted to touch
the leaf of a thistle,
the trembling
work of a spider.

To ponder the Hubble’s recordings.

It did not matter
if I believed in
the party of particle or of wave,
as I carried no weapon.

It did not matter if I believed.

I weighed ashes,
cities that glittered like rubies,
on the scales I was given,
in units of fear and amazement.

I wrote the word it, the word is.

I entered the debt that is owed to the real.

spine-covered leaf, soft-bodied spider,
octopus lifting
one curious tentacle back toward the hand of the diver
that in such black ink
I set down your flammable colors.


“My Debt” from Ledger, © 2020 by Jane Hirshfield – Borzoi Book/Alfred A. Knopf


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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2 Responses to A Poem for the 50th Earth Day

  1. QueridaJ says:

    Happy Earth Day to you! I have been breathing the fresher air and witnessing the frolicking of many backyard critters without the nuisance of us… May the Earth have its healing and make this whole experience finally make us realize.

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