The author, in Thailand.

It’s been maybe a decade since they were together and yet,
He has her photos from their faraway trip in his apartment,
Printed large, they are hanging in the breezeway outside his door.
Their visual vibrance has been eking away with time.

Why does he keep them? It bothers me.
Maybe he just likes the images, I reason.
I mean, she is a professional photographer….
Like me.

He just likes the damn photos.
It could be.
But it can’t be.
It must be more.

Because I know, photos are more than images;
They’re portals into memories,
A way into the soul of the person behind the lens:
These are things that he probably enjoys

Remembering—

Isn’t it something we all like to do?


South Pacific. ©Erica Cirino

We’re walking slowly, our flip flops clip-clopping as we make our way down a dusty island road with no destination in mind. I have tears in my eyes. I keep trying to blink them away before he can see them, but they just keep growing larger. When they breach my eyelids and I think he’s not looking, I wipe my face with the back of a tanned, mosquito-bitten arm. I stare off into the treetops, focusing my gaze on the tiny ethereal fairy terns flitting over and under the green palm fronds that flap in the breeze. They are so…


Nissequogue River. ©Erica Cirino

The cool tranquil river reaches a bend and suddenly ripples its

green-blue-tinted water, sending snakes of glimmer glittering down,

slithering toward the trouble, the bubbling breakage boiling open,

whirling above my only safety—the bottom, gray and white stones

worn smooth by sustained turmoil. They are practically imperceptible

below the unpredictable and savage stream that whirls, dashes, fractures all

subtle reflections of reality. I glance upstream blinking tears, gazing upon

calm waters. Is this terrifying downstream disturbance some anti-oasis,

some atrocious choking apparition; a recurring nightmare, flooding me out?

I am a witness to contradiction. What has called me here?

Fear.


Photo: Red-tailed hawk on Long Island, New York. ©Erica Cirino

On a hike this morning, I pecked this note into my phone before a chance meeting with a hawk:

“What will deter us from using plastic & extravagantly abandoning it in nature, where we expect others to deal with our messes?”

“Others” include nonhumans, who bear the brunt of our irresponsibility, yet do not harm us humans. Before I ran into this beautiful red-tailed hawk, I had been internally grumbling about the amount of plastic I saw on the park’s beach; the presence and growl of the tractor that was enlisted to clean up sun-seekers’ messes by cumbersomely mowing through…


Lesser kestrel, Matera, Italy. ©Erica Cirino

I’m stepping across a high rocky ridge, a gaping cracked canyon stretching between me and the ancient Southern Italian city of Matera. Like many other visitors do, I came to the ridge for the sunset view.

I look up at the horizon watching the sun shrink behind the quiet, ruinous settlement. I’m alone, the only one atop the ridge. The air is cold and quiet, my surroundings still. Suddenly, the stillness is broken by a small sign of life: a lesser kestrel, an elegantly fierce little cliff-dwelling falcon that’s endemic to this place. She is far off and high up…


©Erica Cirino

Lately I’ve been missing you,
and the wild place that raised us.
One day, when I die, I will find you there
and then we will both be embraced in death
by the very wildness that came to define our lives.
Our bodies will nourish the cracked-clay earth we stepped
and our souls will blow the bitter Nor’East winds we breathed,
they will break the tumultuous Atlantic waves we swam,
they will power up the northern sun that warmed us — for at least another hundred years —
and maintain the rhythmic cycle of the mysterious moon, which we always thanked on our midnight walks.
In the meantime, as I wait to be with you again,
I will hold on to my wildness,
as you did,
to the end.


East Sooke, British Columbia. ©Erica Cirino

We are each born,
Sentenced,
To a lifetime.

A lifetime
Of humanity,
A lifetime in which many choose
To commit to an agenda
Of superiority,
Of conquest,
Of ease,
Of “improvement”:
To commit to the human game.

Thanks for playing,
Why don’t you just
Join in on the destruction
Of anything that strays
From our collective convenience?

Destroy sky and ocean
And river and desert
And tundra and forest
And all their power —
Drain them, empty them,
Knock them down,
Dam them, damn them.

Make way!
For humanity.

Kill the insects To halt the bothersome buzz, Meanwhile, the birds…


A look at plastic pollution’s toll on marine wildlife

When humans are harmed by manmade disasters — war, violence, disease and destruction — their unlucky plights make headlines. Painful images are printed and posted online. Upsetting videos are broadcast on loops. Why do wild animals suffering at the hands of humans get significantly less media coverage?

We’re causing major suffering for animals, especially at sea. We send anywhere from 4 to 12 million tons of our plastic trash there every year, where it swirls around and breaks up into smaller pieces, entangling and sickening wild animals.

I’ve documented stories about plastic all over the world, on land and at…


Black-footed albatross over the Pacific Ocean. ©Erica Cirino

How much faith
Do you have in your future?
In the promises of friends
In people you have not yet met?
In the prospect of the sweetest love
In the heart of a man so far away?
In your innocent child, full of life,
Who has not yet been conceived?
In searing sunrises,
In smoldering sunsets,
That have yet to ignite
And burn into your imagination?
In visits to faraway places,
You have yet to discover?
In the richest foods,
You have not yet tasted?
In the celebratory drinks,
You have not yet sipped?
In all the money
Yet unspent?
In all the wonder
You have yet to ponder?
In all of your future that you have considered,
And all that you have not,
Do you believe this life will unravel
In just the way you had hoped?

Erica Cirino

Science writer. Poet &thinker about nature, love &purpose. Mixed media artist. Sailor &diver. Friend of the birds &other critters. http://www.ericacirino.com/

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