A Manual for How to Heal the Earth
by Ruth Weinstein

Chapter 1
Do not read this seeking hyperbolic beauty.
No awe-inspiring vistas here, no elegiac passions,

only a short manual on how to live a modest life,
and, perhaps, how to hold hope for a planetary future.

Chapter 1: Consider your consumption of water.
Collect a trio of gallon buckets or unused cooking pots.

Place one in your bathtub, one in your bathroom sink.
They will lend a funky note to your otherwise beautiful

tiled haven of long showers and candle-scented hot baths.
You may soon find a place for the third, but before you

you shower, catch each drop of cold water swirling
(counter)clock wise down the drain. Water house plants

with saved water after the city chlorine has evaporated.
Capture the gray water when you wash your hands

and brush your bright smile reflected in the mirror.
Use it to flush the toilet. There now, you have not

replenished dried riverbeds, but don’t you feel better?
Isn’t the parched part of your sad heart drinking rain?

Your third vessel is still empty. Catch more water and
soak for a week all your bucket lists of wanting. Watch

how gray water dulls the glitter of incessant desires.
Contemplate the meaning of each drop, each separate

spherical offering of water longing for oceanic union.
Live with chapter 1 for a year. Then with the fluidity of

water write your own Chapter 2—a practical manual
of poems about how to heal our only beautiful blue dot.

PAINTING: Untitled (Warm Water) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1988).

Weinstein copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: In a long ago former life, Ruth Weinstein taught high school English in Philadelphia, English as a Foreign Language in Japan, and English as a Second Language in Arkansas. For nearly 45 years, however, she has focused on organic gardening; writing poetry, essays and memoir; and making both functional and art pieces in a variety of textile media. She has won awards for poems about how gardening and food affect personal and community relationships. She and her husband live on their 40-acre wooded homestead in the Arkansas Ozarks.