Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Glacier (after Wallace Stevens)

I
Among starving polar bears, 
The only moving thing 
Was the edge of a glacier.
 
II
We are of one ecology
Like a planet
In which there are 200,000 glaciers.
 
III
The glacier absorbed greenhouse gases. 
We are a large part of the biosphere.
 
IV
Humans and animals 
Are kin. 
Humans and animals and glaciers 
Are kin.
 
V
We do not know which to fear more,
The terror of change
Or the terror of uncertainty, 
The glacier calving
Or just after.
 
VI
Icebergs fill the vast Ocean
With titanic wrecks. 
The mass of the glacier 
Disappears, to and fro. 
The threat
Hidden in the crevasse
An unavoidable cause.
 
VII
O vulnerable humans,
Why do you engineer sea walls?
Do you not see how the glacier
Already floods the streets
Of the cities around you?
 
VIII
I know king tides, 
And lurid, inescapable storms; 
But I know, too, 
That the glacier is involved 
In what I know.
 
IX
When the glacial terminus broke, 
It marked the beginning 
Of one of many waves.
 
X
At the rumble of a glacier
Losing its equilibrium, 
Every tourist in the new Arctic
chased ice quickly.
 
XI
They explored the poles 
for offshore drilling. 
Once, we blocked them, 
In that we understood 
The risk of an oil spill
For a glacier.
 
XII
The sea is rising.
The glacier must be retreating.
 
XIII
It was summer all winter. 
It was melting 
And it was going to melt.
The glacier fits
In our warm-hands.
 

Credit


Copyright © 2016 by Craig Santos Perez. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Glacier” originally appeared in Newsletter of the Comparative Literature Association of the Republic of China. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Author


Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez, a native Chamorro from Mongmong, Guam, writes about themes such as Pacific life, immigration, ancestry, colonialism, and diaspora.

Date Published: 2017-10-19

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/thirteen-ways-looking-glacier-after-wallace-stevens