This essay is part of #TheRisingTide4ClimateJustice’s Elephant in the Room series (link): a writing project calling out the institutions and ideas that contribute to environmental environmental injustice within the Birmingham community and across the South.

By Chris Chandler

 

Roots

 

Roots mirror

branches, sun seeking,

stretching to the sky.

 

So do roots delve

deep into the Earth,

 

digging up black soil,

winding through red clay,

breaking rock and stone

 

‘til they drink the coolness

of dark water.

 

Sun and sky shining,

wind and rain, blowing

leaves and giving life.

 

Harvest the blooms, nuts, and fruits

into our baskets, onto our tables.

 

What happens when the table is empty?

What happens when the fruit

 

dies

 

on the branch,

under a sunless, ash-filled sky?

 

Will the trees topple

from roots too weak,

weary with nothing to drink?

 

Trees lamenting amongst themselves,

words full of grief and woe.

 

Breathing in their sorrow,

and when we try to speak,

their pain burns our lungs.

 

Holding the soil in our hands,

breathing in the soul of the Earth.

 

Holding the seed close,

so small, so light and fragile,

so full of hope.

 

Nurture the seed, protect it,

and from our care it will prosper.

 

But that is not enough!

 

The air above us,

the soil upon which we stand,

the water beneath us,

 

they all suffer from the negligence,

the greed, and the cowardice of

 

We

the

People

 

burning coal for our homes to be comfortable caves,

for food (shipped across country) staying fresh,

for warm lamps glowing in the dead of night.

 

Gas ignites vehicles so we can travel

so swiftly and with such urgency!

 

Why?

 

To consume fast food, fast fashion,

to sit in an office – present, clocked in,

to lay sweating on a beach wanting to swim.

 

The water is toxic. 

 

Creation care is planting a seed,

but it is also toppling the stacks

spewing the coal ash into our

 

Lungs

Soil

Water

 

Planting a seed brings up a single sapling,

but we need the forest, the multitude,

in which we live amongst, not apart.

 

Stilling the fires that belch black smoke,

sustaining the lakes and purging our streams of

 

Death

 

Feeding ourselves and our children

and their children

and their children

and their children

and their children

and their children

and even their children.

 

We nurture the seeds not for ourselves,

but for those who follow us,

so they will see, so that they listen.

 

 

Chris is a writer living in Irondale, Alabama, trying to fight the apathy of the masses.