Great Mother, What Can Be Done? (with audio)

With COP27 in Egypt this week and next, more of us are attuned to environmental matters at the moment as we plan for our future and reflect on the previous year of anthropogenic catastrophes, from monster fires erupting at “unprecedented” speed, to incredible hurricanes building in a matter of hours, to lethal flooding in some places, like Kentucky, and in Pakistan especially, and drought-driven famine in others, such as Somalia. We’ve seen glaciers collapsing in the Italian Alps and Kazakstan. We’ve learned much more precisely how precarious are the Antarctic ice sheets. The Arctic Tundra is going up in flames, adding much more carbon into the armosphere. We know now that we have warmed 1.1ºC above pre-industrial levels, and that we will not be able to meet the goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords that sought to limit warming to 1.5ºC, the threshold beyond which extreme events were thought to become devastating. At .4ºC shy of that mark, we are already dealing with extreme events as the ‘new normal.’ We are doing this. Models based on current commitments place our planet at 2.1-2.9ºC (35.78-37.22ºF) warming. That’s 35-37ºF warmer on average. Think about what that means. Meanwhile, the Colorado and the Mississippi are at record lows, along with major rivers in Europe. The Amazon is at a critical threshold right now beyond which its ability to regenerate becomes nonviable. Meanwhile in the Congo, they’re about to open up their rainforest for extractive business. Coal projects are still ongoing and fossil fuels remain popular.

This madness is too much. I don’t know how to process what grief I feel, what frustration I’m experiencing, the desperation of this moment.

Here’s one of my Poems for the Anthropocene, a supplication of the Great Mother, Magna Mater, also known as Kybele, often assimilated (sort of) with Gaia (also called Gê), Earth Herself.

Great Mother, What Can Be Done?						31 July 2021
Lucca Daniel Green

  Just tell us, give us any sign, Great Mother, give us your voice
  in your need only shout aloud the aid, whatever the hands of our kind
  might fashion; from your depths and your jagged sawtooth’d peaks, shout
  your sonorous plaints; let them resound on the lips of the folded flock,
  basking in their babble as they wander over floriferous fields,
  or through the wayward motions of the forest, the bristlecone grove
  atop a longslanting slope, whose gnarled limbs and contorted spines speak,
  or else why not the flights of ravenous vultures and eagles, how they
  tear at their prey or each other midair, whither their span spins them
  or whence they’ve flown through the unmeasured depths of your sky.
  Great Mother, may you only give your solemn signal to any who give ear.
  Even through your patternbearing cumuli crossing the aether overhead
  or the awesome Kroniad spectacle of hurled bolts and luminous display.
  Or else try us on the whisper of your howling winds in the lone moon.
  But, Great Mother, please, may you only tell us: what can be done?

pssst. There’s a lunar eclipse starting around 4 am in the eastern US, about 9 hours from the moment I’m writing this. A ‘blood moon’, on the 8th day of November during an election year. Great Mother is calling to you, my fellow Americans, through her shadow against the moon. May you listen and may you vote tomorrow for our species’ future, despite whatever personal or political grievances you harbor.

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