by Sandra Rippetoe © 2020
for my great great great great grandmother,
Margaret Wise Smith, a Cherokee, per family stories
I loathe to imagine a world someday in the future, our future perhaps,
when all the trees are gone,
all the grass is gone,
all the bushes are gone,
when all the ocean’s corals and algae and plankton are gone,
when all that is left are memories of the color, green.
Breathing stops. Life stops.
No breath . . . no life.
The air, once our sustenance, but now devoid of oxygen, and filled with carbon dioxide and perhaps sulfuric and nitric acid and methane, would no longer support life.
What a sad and terrifying day it would be
to watch the earth’s creatures gasp and take their final breaths.
For there was a time when indigenous peoples roamed the planet,
a time when oxygen was plentiful and the air was a pleasure to breath,
a time when towering grand forests covered the lands,
a time when the air was scented with the fragrance of trees, flowering shrubs, dandelion, and clover – – and filled with happy thriving bees.
The native peoples walked softly on the good earth with rich soil beneath their feet.
With social and economic systems not based on money and greed, they lived in harmony, in kinship, with all the plant, animal, and insect creatures of the earth, as brothers and sisters, each one serving a purpose in the mysterious and intricate web of life.
Please hear our prayer, our plea, our supreme wish, our scientific plan.
May our future be redeemed.
May our collective last dying breath be postponed indefinitely because our relationship with plants, animals, and insects is renewed and revered.
May various shades and varieties of green once again overtake our landscapes, be re-interpreted, and tantalize our senses.
May we breathe deeply and soundly, surprised by the experience of taking in clean fresh forested air.
May all people walk upon the earth like those in first nations – – knowing that each step taken is on sacred holy ground.