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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

“Planet” by Poet Catherine Pierce

Air Date: Week of

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Poet Catherine Pierce confronts the climate emergency head-on in her work, and even finds beauty within it. (Image: NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens; NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service)

“PLANET” BY POET CATHERINE PIERCE: To close out Poetry Month and Earth Month, poet Catherine Pierce shares her poem “Planet”. She’s the author of Danger Days and other books of poems that grapple with climate disaster.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Catherine Pierce is the author of Danger Days and other books. And, to close out Poetry Month, and Earth Month, here is her poem called Planet.

PIERCE: This morning this planet is covered by winds and blue.
This morning this planet is lit with dustless perfect light,
enough that I can see one million sharp leaves
from where I stand. I walk on this planet, its hard-packed

dirt and prickling grass, and I don’t fall off. I come down
light if I choose, heavy if I choose. I never float away.
Sometimes I want to be weightless on this planet, and so

I wade into a brown river or dive through a wave
and for a while feel nothing under my feet. Sometimes
I want to hear what it was like before the air and so I duck
under the water and listen to the muted hums. I’m ashamed

to say that most days I forget this planet. That most days
I think about dentist appointments and plagiarists
and the various ways I can try to protect my body from itself.

That last weekend I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope,
its storm stripes, four of its 67 moons, and was filled
with fierce longing, bitter that instead of Ganymede or Europa,
I had only one moon floating in my sky, the moon

called Moon, its face familiar and stale. But this morning
I stepped outside and the wind nearly knocked me down.
This morning I stepped outside and the blue nearly

crushed me. This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones

and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards
with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down light today.
I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.


Catherine Pierce is the author of four books of poems including Danger Days and The Tornado Is the World and is professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State University. (Photo: Megan Bean / Mississippi State University)

CURWOOD: Writer and poet Catherine Pierce teaches at Mississippi State University.
Her poem “Planet” first appeared in the Southern Review.

 

Links

Catherine Pierce’s poetry and more

 

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