Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Ellery Akers: We Have the Power to Pull Back from the Brink

The most common way people give up their power 
is by thinking they don’t have any.”                                       ––Alice Walker
 
And so I stand here and call power. 
I stand here and call water. 
 
I call creeks. Lakes.  
Pools. Sinkholes. 
Tide pools with turban snails 
and starfish—the ones
that have come back to the West Coast,
climbing over rocks on white tube feet, 
resilient, as nature can be resilient. 
 
I call shinbones of water 
skinnying down into sluice boxes.
Brackish water, sulfur-smelling water, sludge.
Rain in rain barrels,
clear water spilling over dams
and clear water that has never been dammed. 
 
I confront the brink
even though I’m part of the brink. 
 
I call snow geese 
sifting onto the rice fields, honking. 
White-fronted geese. Brant. 
 
I call the shapes of leaves: 
spatulate, cordate, pinnate, lanceolate.
 
I call the hole in the ozone. 
Pollen. Luciferin. Chitin. 
 
I call rare plants and animals
coming back because of the fire:
fishers, black-backed woodpeckers,
globe mallows, morels.
 
I call fire. 
 
And fire answers with its flaming mouth 
and strange whining pronunciation
as it clears the underbrush
 
and the hole in the ozone answers 
that it is closing 
 
and the leaves answer 
a twelve-year-old boy planted a million trees
 
And luciferin blinks on and off 
and illuminates what has been buried so long 
under tons of dark water
 
and pollen blows into the faces of climbers
who hung all night
in slings from the St. John’s Bridge
to stop Shell drilling the Arctic 
 
and water answers
Belize banned offshore oil
and protected the second largest barrier reef
in the ocean 
 
and my power answers
I’ve always known my hand could have been a leaf:
Hemoglobin and chlorophyll almost the same. 
Only one atom different. 

Ellery Akers’ latest book is Swerve: Poems on Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance (1st World Publishing, 2020).

Copyright 2020 Ellery Akers

Embers fly across a roadway as the Kincade Fire burns through the Jimtown community of Sonoma County, Calif., Oct. 24, 2019. NOAH BERGER/AP

2 comments on “Ellery Akers: We Have the Power to Pull Back from the Brink

  1. Phyl
    February 27, 2020

    Wow…..
    Wise Words Thanks inspire
    Gratitude
    Thanks Ellery and all poets

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne Batterson
    February 11, 2020

    Thank you for this inspired, hopeful poem, Ellery. We all need it. I will send it out and about.

    Liked by 1 person

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