by Kimberly Esslinger

If I loved the Earth like I love my body,
like I love being in my body, or if
I love Earth like I loved my mother
who carried me in her body,
or her mother, or if I cared for its diet
more than my diet or gave it soft clean
sheets every night, and if I gave gifts
on its birthday, a card on its special
day, or a telefloral bouquet if I forget,
if I thought of it like my mother
could I heal it?
Or what if I thought of Earth as my baby,
the baby I will never carry in my belly
but would sing to every night, gently
rocking it to sleep, soothing and cooing,
and what if instead of a baby
I treated it like a friend or a sister,
or what if I treated Earth like a lover
and every night I lay next to it
like a spoon, finding ways to delight it.
And what if I were to love Earth
like I was a healer with a feather,
wave my arms above as below
and around like rings on Saturn
smudging orbits of protection.
And if I were just a monkey
preening and grooming Earth
leaning in to get down deep
in the hairy brush of it, to collect the cans
and masks, and plastic, I would chew them
to little bits and they would nourish me.
But if I were only an ordinary citizen,
a citizen of the world, and if I were to love
Earth as much as I love striding
across the large land mass of us,
straddling subduction zones,
marveling at all the minutiae people have built
on her thin mantle, I would ask for less,
I would always ask for less. And I would kiss
Earth’s beautiful face before it disappears,
and I would kiss it and kiss it
and kiss it and kiss it …

PAINTING: Cloud Madonna by T.C. Cannon (1975).

kimberly copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly Esslinger’s poems have been accepted by Spillway Magazine, Thrush, Chiron Review, Artemis Journal, Saga Literary Journal, and Incandescent Minds Journal. She is currently finishing her MFA in Poetry at CSU Long Beach. Her current obsessions are videohaikus, drumming, and her little dog, Zuma. Visit her at