My Eighteen-Month-Old Daughter Talks to the Rain as the Amazon Burns

Lark of my house,
keep laughing.
Miguel Hernández

this little lark says hi
to the rain—she calls
river as she slaps
the air with both wings—
she doesn’t know pine
from ash or cedar
from linden—she greets
drizzle & downpour
alike—she doesn’t
know iceberg from melt—
can’t say sea level
rise—glacial retreat—
doesn’t know wildfire—
greenhouse gas—carbon
tax or emission—
does not legislate
a fear she can’t yet
feel—only knows cats
& birds & small dogs
& the sway of some
tall trees make her squeal
with delight—it shakes
her tiny body—
this thrill of the live
electric sudden—
the taste of wild blue-
berries on her tongue—
the ache of thorn-prick
from blackberry bush—
oh dear girl—look here—
there’s so much to save—
moments—lady bugs—
blue jays—arias—
horizon’s pink hue—
we gather lifetimes
on one small petal—
the river’s our friend—
the world: an atom—
daughter: another
name for: hope—rain—change
begins when you hail
the sky sun & wind
the verdure inside
your heart’s four chambers
even garter snakes
and unnamed insects
in the underbrush
as you would a love
that rivers: hi—hi


Copyright © 2020 by Dante Di Stefano. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 9, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“We live next to the Susquehanna river and my daughter lovingly calls everything associated with water (rain, bathtub, kitchen faucet) ‘river.’ Seeing her engage nature with such joy has made me more keenly aware of how important it is to act against climate change. I invoke the great Spanish poet Miguel Hernández’s most famous poem ‘Nanas de la cebolla’ (in lines translated by Robert Bly) because a child’s laughter, like a poem, can be a restorative utterance, an enormous ‘yes’ despite hardship, tyranny, and ecological catastrophe.”
—Dante Di Stefano