You Call it Eco-Trauma

by Mia Nelson

Wendell Berry called it the “Peace of Wild Things”
but the milk boy called it the curdled edges of his skating pond
and the priest in his red house called it this too shall pass,
and the black geese called it a generational flailing,
and my lover called it a summer storm

but really it was the ending of things that we saw no ending to
our feet standing on the sweet glacial edge of heaven
wishing we had held the redwood bark closer to our nose
so we might still smell it, as if we could properly name our longing
by just having paid more attention, so we could list what we’ve killed
like this:

  1. lake michigan in the summer, fat blackberries on the surface
  2. the sun on white rocks in new hampshire, far above tree-line
  3. a western chinese lake, lapping at the edge of our yurt
  4. the night in Arizona we ran through cactuses howling like guava bellied wolves
  5. licking rose jam from our fingers, stories about blooming season in September
  6. grey spires in El Chalten’s small mountain town filled with the butter-smell of before dawn bakeries

I call it waking up in the middle of the night
in a cold sweat and knowing your mother
is being killed in the next room,
but not being able to move.

I call it pulling a gun on the mirror
or crying every birthday since I was ten knowing nothing can save
me (us, it, ours) from time.

I call it the heart sickness when I watch my
little brother pick the bones of some tender thing’s
baby with relish, relish (suck, lick, throw in the bone bowl with the rest).

it’s funny. the only thing that can really save me
is the walk up to Lafayette mountain,
the one that is dark soil and waterfalls and
sun, suddenly,
the moment you can see everything around you,
when it finally becomes obvious:
nothing this still & clear & God-bred could belong to anyone
who speaks our greedy language of
want.