Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Ellery Akers: Rachel Carson

I think of the way 
she bent over tide pools at night:
a woman stooped in the dark with her flashlight
as if she were stepping into the lit harness
of her work.
 
I think of the way she lay under the stars
because they were medicine:
 
Tumors near the collarbone.
Pain in her spine. 
Radiation.  Krebiozen.
Arthritis.  Iritis. 
Sightless for weeks.
Listening as her friend read a draft out loud. 
 
Remembering the robin 
that fell dead from a branch. 
 
I think of the pages of notes about pesticides—
 
I moan inside—and I wake in the night
and cry out silently for Maine–
 
And then, more notes about pesticides.
 
I think of the way the moon glazed the water
when she crossed out words and wrote other words.
 
I think of the way she knew
that eels slid from brook to brook
and then to the sea.
 
I’m in luck,
because brown is cheapest, she said, 
when she bought a wig
to cover her bald head at the Senate.
 
I could never again
listen happily to a thrush song, she said, 
if I had not done
all I could.”
 
They called her spinster.
Alarmist. 
Communist. 
 
I think of the eagles 
who came back because of her.
I think of her open gaze.  Her resolve.
Her refusal to turn away from the wreck.

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

Copyright 2020 Ellery Akers

Wood Thrush

3 comments on “Ellery Akers: Rachel Carson

  1. Barbara Huntington
    August 26, 2020

    Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was one reason I wanted to be a biologist. What a powerful tribute. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      August 26, 2020

      Thanks, Barbara. I read Silent Spring when I was a kid and it changed my life.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Daniel Burston
    August 26, 2020

    Bravo! A wonderful tribute to a brave, visionary woman.

    Liked by 1 person

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