Eleanore Lee

Climate Change: Time's Up through the smoke drifting down from the Butte County fire Shift, alter, modifyCall it whatever butDenial’s a river, they say Look how the birds keep fluttering and flopping outside the window. Colors are muted through the haze.That water’s gone milky gray.You might even call this a new softnessAll around us. Those are fine particles you’ve got there! ParticlesOf burned soilScorched melted carpets clothes appliances to-do lists family photosAsbestos underlining now made volatileResidues of Chevy pickup I’ve never asked this butWere you planning to have children?It used to be three was normal. Then 2.3. Now none? Cows make milk. Cows make methane.Who wants a farting bovine around anyway?With its sad droopy drooling head? Does it know? Bill McKibben’s book, The End of Nature.Is Nature ending?Or us?Maybe Nature is in fact prevailing.Taking care of stuff,In a whole new way.

End? Do we really know “end”?What is it, anyway?Any other name for it?Is it stop?Is it gone?Is it change?Is it: “It’s over”?Is it loss? How can it be? When it’s about not beingJust think of the torrent of ideas and images that pour inWith that one end-name“Death.”The dead one in question isNot vanished at allNot one bit.Jake, that old guy with the crooked teeth,His favorite song, the pile of change he left in the top drawer,The gravestone in Queens.Dead. But Then there’s the tenement on East 8th StreetWhere my ex and I long ago shared slow weekend mornings, coffeeAnd the Sunday Times in our third-floor walk-up.Torn down long agoBut there’s still a vacant lot where some rubble in the cellar holeRemains. It’s a word issue:If you can say it, write it,Think it,It stays.
Summer Light Moths flopping around my dim bed lamp Pile of Gran’s old books:Zane Grey, Louisa MayThe Secret Garden. The BorrowersStacked on the maple side table. Dark outside the raised window sashExcept for the sometime soft flashOf summer lightningClose walls slant ceilings radiate shimmering summer heatNo blankets for me. Just the sheet. Down the hall, down the hall,The dim steep stifling stairwayWas the journey to the bathroom.The old people slept downstairs.The rule was nobody flush at night—Save water. That’s how it wasTo be a little girl in the summer of 1952In northern Vermont. Scent of early morning baconThe wait for the bath. Outside, morningsTo walk barefoot tenderly slowly up the forest’s roughPebbled path. By summer’s end my feet were calloused tough.I was proud of that.Summer’s endWhen the goldenrods began to burstLighting up the empty fields.

Eleanore Lee has been writing fiction and poetry for many years in addition to her regular job as a legislative analyst for the University of California system. Her work has appeared in a range of journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Carbon Culture Review, Existere Journal, Flumes Literary Journal, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Portland Review,and Tampa Review. She was selected as an International Merit Award Winner in Atlanta Review’s 2008 International Poetry Competition. She also won first place in the November 2009 California State Poetry Society contest.