In contemplating our fear of viruses.
I wonder, is this what the trees felt like, when their sisters and mothers and uncles and aunts didn’t wake up in spring? When saw-toothy-edged elm leaves failed to unfurl, and mighty arms fell from the sky? And what of the eagle? Was it afraid, year after year when the safety of a thin calcium orb collapsed on a tiny, helpless chick? Did the bird wonder, what would happen, who would come back to the forest next year to eat mice and squirrels if my babies don’t live? And the prairie dog, the watcher of the plain, what did he think the day he popped up from his underground network, happy to greet his neighbor, yet his neighbor didn’t appear? Was he afraid, when next his grandmother didn’t wake up; and next the coyote that usually chased him home each afternoon? Did he wonder, will my children move to find new neighbors, will I live to teach my grandchildren which seeds to collect? And the coral; the brain, the fan, and the fish in their nooks, do they wonder if they can whisk the warm water away?
Then I wonder, will I be able to teach my children how to make dinner? How to drive a car? Does my neighbor fear his father may not answer the phone tomorrow? And what of your boss, or auntie, or bus driver? Will you see them at the beach this summer? At the ice cream stand? Will your friends take off their coats and reach for the sun?
Could the monarch, the manatee, and elephant come together? Do they have research that tells them why they disappear? Maybe there is a coalition with the ocean, the rainforest, and the river to find a vaccine that will cure them of us.
Will the deciders ever help? Will the helpers get to decide? And I wonder, will we remember, will we be ready next time, and why didn’t we remember? And will there be food, and medicine, and shelter? But before, and after, will we hug?
Above: An eagle soars over birch and spruce forest along Turnagain Arm, Alaska. Spruce have been in decline for a decade due to predation by the spruce bark beetle. As the climate warms, the winters are not harsh enough to kill the beetles.