Winter

Someone pulls on the new moon’s slim handle and snow falls. The mass balance of every glacier and ice cap has shifted. Global warming doesn’t mean just desertification, but also weather violence, purple oceans, yellow methane skies, and a band of continuous hurricanes moving around the equator.

A snowy owl descends onto a neighbor’s deck and calls. No answer. Two inches of snow falls every hour. In the Arctic I heard the undulating mating songs of bearded seals and the roar of pack ice being pushed by strong winds into land-fast ice; saw it rise into a wall, and I wonder, how will the new wilderness of a world without humans sound, and to whose ear?

Snow falls from the roof in soft thuds. How much has been crushed? How much gone missing? Currently, there are 3,071 critically endangered species in the world. Snow stops as abruptly as it started. “The Earth is moving faster now,” one Yup’ik woman said, meaning dependable weather, winds, migration patterns, and ocean currents are no more.

The Burgess Shale taught us to expect the unexpected, to behold “otherness.” Ice instructs us about impermanence. Climate change teaches us speed.