The text for this piece comes from a poster created for Syracuse Cultural Workers, a New York-based publisher “committed to peace, sustainability, social justice, feminism and multiculturalism.” Dr. Jack Manno is an Associate Professor at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in the SUNY system, and a participating faculty member in Native American Studies at Syracuse University. He also has a particular interest in public policy governing the use of the Great Lakes, which makes him a special friend to those of us here in the Upper Midwest. This piece was written for Earth Day, 2011, to honor my friend and colleague Nancy Grundahl.
May earth’s song reach us in our deepest and wildest places.
May it be heard as we move upon her, as we partake of her sustenance,
as we nestle in her waters and grasses.
May we hear the voices of the stones, the winds and waters,
creatures and plants, above the human chatter,
softly but not silently, so we can heed them when we must.
May all those who try to conquer earth’s powers learn instead from
compost and humus, and take from them humility,
knowing any force conquered is lost forever to the conqueror.
May compassion wrack the polluter’s heart,
so stunned the earth’s gifts their poisons cannot be released.
At long last, may earth’s protectors throw grand parties
where victory is declared in a mighty sigh of relief.
May this exhalation resound in ocean depths,
reverberate in humpback flesh and please all the watery souls.
May whales and wolves rejoice with weird shouts that all is well.
May we have a world’s celebration where everyone stays put,
our roots seeking amusements together deep in the earth,
our branches entwined in the winds.
May our grandchildren’s grandchildren share legends of when we
brought about the end of the time of arrogance and waste.
May they toss stones from shores, hearing our names echo in the ripples.
So may it be.