Earth Day 2020

by    /  October 20, 2020  / Comments Off on Earth Day 2020

The first line is from Sharon Olds’ poem “Blossom Trees.”
by Heather Hahn

Do we exist to mourn the earth?
Not here. Not in this city.
We take what we can get and call it good.

“It turned out to be a nice day.”
Once a week, two hours of gray-blue sky mid-afternoon in the burbs.
Expectations set so low that frustration claims no purchase here.

It is enough to mow prideful rows in the lawn three times a week
and sincerely wish the mill still belched prosperity.
After all, decay was scraped from skyscraper-teeth by 1950.

Behold, George Washington surveyed the place where the rivers ran together.
Well-situated, there was power there.
But Cather’s professor saw before his death the beauty he planted in young minds wither.

Still, it’s a valid question on Earth Day!
We mourn lost lives en masse as nature mutates
and discover, genuinely surprised, that we have no power.

We can only say for sure
we did not see this coming.
And as some blame God for death but some run to him the quicker then,

the valiant and righteous don masks for all of us,
and post riders deliver normalcy in an age of Zoom-location and misinformation,
while others sow discontent and rent on purpose the seams that constitute the heart of union.

The trees don’t look right here.
But hiding and hoping that parasites and mill spit, unseen, simply bypass the lungs
doesn’t feel right at all, because tenacity is not healing.


Heather Hahn was born at Magee Womens Hospital, grew up in northeastern Ohio, and returned to Pittsburgh in 2019, having lived in France, Germany, and South Carolina. She earned her PhD in Comparative Literature and a Masters in Philosophy from the State University of New York at Binghamton in their Program in Philosophy, Literature, and the Theory of Criticism. A Philosophy and Gender Studies professor turned freelance writer/editor, she feels privileged to work as Director of Outreach for Write Pittsburgh. She’s enjoyed getting to know the area as a grown-up, exploring with her daughter and husband. She’s also a yogi, collage hobbyist, and steampunk enthusiast.

City of Asylum believes that All Pittsburghers are Poets. With the Poem of the Week series, we seek to increase the readership and appreciation of poetry locally by publishing poems written by residents of Allegheny County of all ages and levels of experience. In partnership with the Poetry Editors at Sampsonia Way Magazine, City of Asylum advances our mission to defend, celebrate, and build on creative freedom of expression. This project received a RADical ImPAct Grant from the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD).

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