Warrior’s Wisdom
by Donna Weems

child warrior, Greta Thunberg, sails into stuffy senate chambers, assemblies and houses of parliament waving hand painted black and white signs Skolstrejk för klimatet and wins

she does not measure the value of the natural world by its sale price

and declares, everything needs to change and it has to start now

they designate the Monongahela National Forest—including knobs, glades, sods, caves, cricks and hollers—an international treasure—to be protected and enjoyed

walking through deep undisturbed forest, visitors revel under the cool of mature chestnut, ash and elm trees and thrill to hear the fluted trill of a thrush

visitors learn the sweet whisper-chatter of a nesting tree swallow

boulders covered with soft green moss and baby birch hide the entrance of a deep bear den where a thick-furred, slumbering mother gave birth to four pocket-sized cubs last winter

a hiker casually walks past the fluid drape of a cougar stretched between maple branches in his mid-afternoon snooze

the dark-green, leathery leaves of rhododendron loaded with pink clusters lean heavily over a narrow cascade of clear, clean water

an unwitting visitor looks at her reflection in a cold mountain pool and sees the golden flash of a torpedo-shaped brook trout curiously staring back

caddisflies shimmer above the bank, hovering above softly rustling grasses and the dank smell of a summer stream

boundary fences are no longer needed and only an occasional black locust post can still be spotted in forests and meadows

running buffalo clover, growing along elk, deer and buffalo paths, wanders into backyard meadows

after being lost for centuries, herds find the ancient migration routes again

young people gather wild chicken-of-the woods, elderberries, ginseng and strawberries and tend small organic gardens

local families and friends frequently hold community feasts when the harvests are abundant

parents call their children in at dusk during the panther’s evening hunt

children spend their afternoons exploring the mysteries of the forest and find deep wisdom

they emerge as child warriors

PHOTO:  In August 2018, outside the Swedish parliament building, Greta Thunberg started a school strike for the climate. Her sign reads “Skolstrejk för klimatet,”meaning, “school strike for climate.” Photo by Anders Hellberg.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Warrior’s Wisdom” was written to give the reader a fanciful glimpse into what a healed forest might look like. It is a poem of hope because of the inherent diversity and resiliency of the Appalachian Forest and the strength, sensitivity, and work of people like Greta Thunberg.

Donna Hugging Tree White Park

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Weems publishes a yearly chapbook. Her poetry has also been published in The Highlands Voice, Women Speak, and Voices from the Attic. She has read her poetry at Arts Monongalia, the Green Man Arts Festival (Elkins, West Virginia), Women Speak readings (Morgantown and Clarksburg, West Virginia), and Marge Piercy’s reading (Wellfleet, Massachusetts). Her poetry won the 2012 Mountaineer Week “Voices of Appalachia” contest and the “Fernow Forest” contest as well as second place in the 2019 emerging poet category of the West Virginia Writer’s contest.