The winter was mild by New England standards.
We stayed indoors, set the thermostat to 70, and
when the energy bill arrived—late, because, lest we
one day forget this epoch, the mail, like so much else
about our lives, was being sabotaged—we would let out a
sigh of relief, for money is tight in a pandemic, in a world
where thermostats connect to boilers, to supply chains,
to ancient substances mined, refined, sold, burned, then
dumped into the sky for profit. How vast is the sky, how much
power it takes to fill the air with warmth, to make us emerge like
the creatures we consider ourselves superior to—ants, spiders,
mice, raccoons! But we are delicate, slather ourselves in sunblock,
put on hats and sunglasses: cautious, tentative. Is this why we
destroy with such lust—to keep us safe? Of course we also lust
for one another, the innards of flowers, mountains, bodies both
animate and celestial. So ravenous are we, if we could eat the stars,
we’d hunt them to the brink of extinction, nonprofits would construct
zoos and reservations, sell bumper stickers that say “Save Orion” and
“We are all stardust.” As it is, we can hardly see past ourselves.
Light pollution and smog obscure the grandeur beyond;
satellites and space junk blanket us like moons. On Earth, we’ve
tampered with rivers; manufactured so much plastic, we consume
a credit card’s worth a week; and found we can change the weather,
if not control it. But let’s not worry about that now. Warmer days are here.
Meet me on the beach, beautiful even as it erodes. Let our sunscreen-
streaked bodies touch and touch. With each breath, a few grains of sand
fall from our backs. We don’t notice the sun go down, the waters
flow in quiet awe, or imagine that another intelligence, chancing on us
from its own eroded home galaxies away, might envy how your hands
glide across my skin as if to soothe a terrible concern for the future.
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