Archives for posts with tag: ecology

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How to Be a Malacologist
by Stephanie L. Harper

Remember when
your child’s heart led your head
like a garden snail’s head leads its footed belly.

Think back to when you were seven
& your adopted pet / school project, Kiddo,
gnawed away at a slice of banana on a glass slide
as you watched, thunderstruck, from beneath him
(find out on Wikipedia that he was using his radula
a structure akin to a tongue used by mollusks to feed).

Recall how proud you were of Kiddo when he not only lost
the school snail race, but redefined it, by turning around
at the half-way point, staying in his own lane, & crossing
the start-line before any of the other snails reached the finish.

Wonder why your teacher didn’t mention anything about Kiddo
& his compatriots being hermaphrodites, or how (if they chose)
they could all be both father & mother to their tiny-shelled progeny,
& realize how simple it would have been for her to call a snail’s powerful,
innate mechanism of retracting its tentacles into its head for protection
by its technical name: invagination.

Then, understand, finally, that if you’d been born with the ability
to operate yourself like a puppet, & pull yourself outside-in
by drawing your head down into your belly & out
through your foot, to invert your once-vibrant
body into an empty sock, how many times
you would have done exactly that.

First published in Panoply.  

Photo by Katarzyna Załużna, used by permission. Read about the photographer’s portraits of snails at mymodernmet.com

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When a friend and fellow poet asked me in a recent interview, “From where or what do your poems sprout?” I experienced this question viscerally. Poems really do sprout, don’t they? I mean, for me, whether they come up silently or explosively, and whether they arise all sallow and reedy, vivid and sweet, or tender, or sour, or even barely perceptible—at some point prior to their births, they are pollinated by my virtue of my orientation toward Life and how I apprehend, synthesize, store and/or ruminate on every experience—of my former and current human relationships; of all that being a mother means; of my interactions with animals, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, oceans, rocks and sand, the sky and its heavenly bodies, manmade physical/technological and social infrastructures, literary, visual, and performed arts . . . Each one then germinates beneath the soil until something incites it to erupt: Whether the something is a disquietingly still and protracted fallow interlude, an intense or even haunting dream, an epic bout of insomnia that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, or one of the millions of much more innocuous ways I might be moved in the course of a day, what it never is, is predictable. In the whole scheme of things, though, it’s become dependable.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie L. Harper is a recently transplanted Oregonian living in Indianapolis, Indiana. Harper is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two poetry chapbooks: This Being Done and The Death’s-Head’s Testament. Her poems appear in Slippery Elm Literary JournalPanoply, Isacoustic*, Cathexis Northwest, Riggwelter Press, Moonchild Magazine, Dust Poetry, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere. Visit her online at slharperpoetry.com.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always thought of the ending of The Great Gatsby as one of the perfect endings in literature, and rereading it in the age of climate change, I wondered how much of Fitzgerald’s “green breast of the new world” would be left above water if the oceans continue to rise. I imagined Nick Caraway as the rueful, elegiac recorder of the last days of humanity.

Kulpa

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathryn Kulpa
has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen — actually, a crayon. She has work featured or forthcoming in The Great Gatsby Anthology, Smokelong Quarterly, KYSO Flash, and Saranac Review. She is flash fiction editor for Cleaver magazine and she teaches fiction workshops for teens and adults in the smallest state in the union.

Photo: Kathryn Kulpa at age 13 in Massachusetts with her dog Toto.

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“Morning brings back the heroic ages. There was something cosmical about it; a standing advertisement, till forbidden, of the everlasting vigor and fertility of the world. The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night.”  From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond, Beautiful Day” by machris, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond” by Gary Lerude, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” From Walden, Or Life in the Woods by HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Photo: “Walden Pond at Sunset” by Meridith Louise, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“Very warm. Now for a thin coat. This melting weather makes a stage in the year. The crickets creak louder and more steadily; the bullfrogs croak in earnest. The drought begins. The dry z-ing of the locust is heard…” 

From The Writings of Henry David Thoreau: Journal 1837-1846

Photo: Say Cheese, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED