Written on the Body #25, October 2, 2020 — Poem for the Times

We have passed Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and two harvest festivals are approaching: Sukkot, the Jewish festival, on Oct. 2-4, and Thanksgiving in Canada on Oct. 12. With the planet in such chaos from wildfires, hurricanes, extinctions of species, and other aspects of climate change (not to mention the pandemic and the growing recognition of systemic racism and its dire effects on human lives and relationships), it is important to remember we must treat nature, as well as each other, with kindness and respect — or we risk and invite catastrophe. I would like to offer this poem, recently published in the We’Moon Calendar for 2021, with the theme of The World (the 21st, and final, Major Arcana Tarot card). We’Moon (published by a women’s group in Oregon) has been going through the Tarot deck year by year, and I have had several poems previously published in this calendar/daybook, which features art and writing by women around the world, as well as astrological information. My poem, “Letter to the World,” takes its title from a poem by Emily Dickinson, “This Is My Letter to the World.” http://www.online-literature.com/dickinson/834/

Letter to the World

(after Emily Dickinson)

This is my letter to the world,

that writes to me, to all of us,

in the language of sea-foam and sunlight,

tornadoes, typhoons, tsunamis,

Nature’s tongue that can be gentle and loving, like a mother animal,

or harsh and hurting when we do not respect her skin,

her heartbeat, her children.

This is my dream for the world —

let us learn before it is too late

that love is the force that greens and grows us all,

molecule to mollusk to human,

connecting our flowing currents,

keeping us whole,

restoring our broken-ness.

These are our hopes for the world —

hear our cries,

teach us to cry before it is too late,

before fire, flood, and ice consume us.

Let us shed the old snake-skins of greed and hatred,

reborn in new and silken welcome,

shining with abundance and new light.

I am the world, writing in response,

hoping against hope

for more light, fresher air, water

clean and clear as starlight.

I have whispered to you in flowers and fruits,

thundered and wept in tornadoes and hurricanes,

scorched in drought and fire,

 opened my heart to rebirth.

I want to save my children, not swallow them up.

Will you listen?

© Ellen S. Jaffe.  (published in We’Moon Calendar for 2021. www.wemoon.ws).

About Ellen

I am a member of The Writers Union of Canada, the League of Canadian Poets, and CANSCAIP. I have received grants from the Ontario Arts Council for both writing and teaching. I currently work with Learning Through the Arts and Living through the Arts, programmes run by the Royal Conservatory of Music that enable artists to work in schools and community organizations. I have also taught in many other school and community programs, and have been a judge for various writing contests for both young people and adults.
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