Editor’s Note: “Poems to Listen By” is an audio series where over time we will explore some of the themes in the Poet Laura checklist, as well as Tweetspeak’s “Year of Wisdom” theme throughout 2020.
Poems to Listen By: Heart & Soil 02—News from the Underground
Presented by Laurie Klein
Welcome to Tweetspeak’s “Poems to Listen By.” I’m Laurie Klein, reading to you today from my new series, “Heart & Soil.” I’ve borrowed that title from a past event sponsored by the United Nations: World Soil Day.
A tender Palestinian proverb says, “Only the soil knows when a young mouse is ill.”
Most days, I overlook the small but resourceful creatures inhabiting the soil beneath my feet. Trying to remedy this, I once began a poem this way:
[“Here on Earth” poem]
The aeration of soil can be gentle. Sometimes, however, Terra Firma exhales in violent ways, as when Washington’s majestic Mount St. Helens erupted. Devastation reigned.
We lived 250 miles from the epicenter. As a young mom lamenting my just-planted garden now covered with ashes, it was helpful to remember something poet John Keats once said: “The poetry of the earth is never dead.”
Over time, the ashy wasteland made a comeback, partly due to the innate genius of small but athletic subterranean creatures—creatures paradoxically deemed enemies by farmers. Meet the pocket gopher, the hero of my poem:
[“News from the Underground” poem]
You’ve just heard an excerpt from “Here on Earth,” and “News from the Underground,” by Laurie Klein.
“News from the Underground,” first published in Psaltery & Lyre, republished in Where the Sky Opens along with “Here on Earth,” by Laurie Klein (Wipf & Stock/Cascade Books, 2015). “Simple Gifts” (public domain). Musical performance, recording, and mastering, by Bill Klein.
World Soil Day, an annual United Nations event globally observed on Dec. 15th. Learn more here.
Browse more Poems to Listen By
Photo by Guiseppe Milo, Creative Commons via Flickr. Audio and script by Laurie Klein with thanks to Pat Stien for direction. “Simple Gifts” (public domain). Musical performance, recording, and mastering, by Bill Klein.
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