The Anthropocene: Seven Abstracts from a Conference (Two)


For me, it dates back to farming,
the first forest clearances by fire,
smoothing out the land we re-named fields.
Tillage, shifting cultivations.
Knowledge of crops and the intricate seasons.

Survivalists, stewards of the biosphere,
from nothing we grew. Slowly learned
to tame the kyne, surrounded our homes
with loose thickets of breeding-pens.
Walked behind manure’s bright stink

as we thought of what to plant
and for how long. Doused the soil.
Moved and changed it.
Barren swathes that would not root
until we cropped, re-cropped, dammed rivers,

sliced channels, thought of ourselves –
and where was the harm in that? –
as the mighty river’s arteries flowed past.


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