Writing About Climate Change

Here’s a letter I wrote for Dear Earth With Love, a collaborative community chronicle of personal stories about climate change.

My dear friend Jo created this project. I encourage you to write your own letter to the earth, responding to your personal experience with climate change. It could be a letter, poem, story, song, or spoken word piece. It could be a video of a dance or performance; a painting, collage, or sculpture. Whatever medium suits you best, use it and make something– then submit your work.

Dear Earth With Love holds rolling submissions, with a deadline posted every few months.  The next deadline is August 31, 2016.

Read the beginning of my essay here:

Polar Bear Diving

A Letter to my Daughter, Sky

You were born in a heat wave.

Due May 29, you waited until the temps spiked 100, unseasonable for the Pacific Northwest’s usual meander toward solstice, then came tearing toward earth at rapid speed. A blissful few days in the hospital’s air conditioning, then home to the thin walls of our rental house, our box fan missing one foot, so it limped in circles if left untethered.

One year later, we celebrate your birth in our side yard, urban concrete and a plastic kiddie pool. 102 by noon, 103 when the guests arrive. Happy birthday, Sky, your grandpa says, hanging canvas over the grass. It is not supposed to be this hot.

A choice: to bring new life to a planet too-teeming with it, or not? We chose yes, chose you, or, some would say, you chose us. Selfish, we wanted you so very much, tried for you, suffered loss and tried again, waited and watched while you grew, grew, grew, while you rippled like water across my belly swollen taut, while you found new spots inside my ribs to stick your toes.

Toes, you say now, pointing to my bare ones on the AC-cooled floor of our new home.

Nose. No-no. Bird, bird. Rapidly the words come. You are delighted with them, in awe of your body, the belly button that appears, like magic, beneath your shirt. You recognize the sound of Daddy’s truck door slamming shut at 5 o’clock. Window, you say when you hear it, reaching for the smudged glass.

So far, we are your world. We feed you words with your cereal and banana. And in these heady early years, you are also our world. You discover joy, and your belly giggles trigger our own deep laughter. You discover pain, and your tears make our own eyes smart. We watch you drink from your blue cup, and we feel thirsty. Water, you say. More, more.

Yesterday we went to the zoo. We watched a tiger swank by, a pair of leopards nap carelessly against the window where school children pounded their fists. When we saw the polar bear swimming in its underground tank, I almost cried, remembering the video that went viral years ago, before we reached the two degrees Celsius milestone: big white bears dwarfed in a swirling ocean, trying desperately to seek foothold somewhere, anywhere, while their ice floats melted around them.

This polar bear was all grace and giantness, a strange pairing. You were quiet, watching, and I felt like I was watching something that was already gone…

Read the rest of the letter at Dear Earth With Love, writing on climate change.

[Photo by Ltshears (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

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