On Earth Day 2021, we offer these words from the poet Julie Cadwallader-Staub.


In the garden early, I’m
transplanting echinacea while robins and flycatchers

confirm that our winter–complicated and compounded
by COVID–has succumbed to spring at last.

I’m spinning over and over the question that consumes me:
are we in a chrysalis or only hibernating?

Even now, are we dissolving
transforming, irrevocably changing?

If we can cooperate globally to protect human life in a pandemic,
can we leave war behind, discard it like diapers and training wheels?

And what about pollution–now that we breathe measurably cleaner air,
will we outgrow fossil fuels and embrace a future worthy of the name?

Plant, water, tamp down; plant, water, tamp down: can you tell me
will we emerge changed? Or just more hungry?

Julie Cadwallader Staub is an American poet living near Burlington, Vermont. Her works have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, published in journals, and included in anthologies. Her newest collection of poems is Wing Over Wing. Parker Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak, writes, “This book is a treasure, the work of a poet who time and again has opened my eyes to my own life and the life of the world.”

Image credit:

  1. Echinacea photo: Clandestine Wren Photography

Lightning Update is a regular communication of the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions of the Partnership or member organizations.
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