Photo by Isabelle Chauvel via DailyMail.


Look up at the sky, a cloud funnelling down
on the other side of blue, look down

at the ground, a crack from drought splitting
open the earth, deep as the crevice Hades

thundered through in his chariot to steal
Persephone from her mother holding up

an August bundle of diminished wheat.
Weather shapes our lives, we cannot

doubt. We exchange news of the weather
on our daily walk, stirring the white in the coffee cup

at work. Farmer’s Almanac and a bitter, long winter
ahead, just check the Weather Channel – right

as the oracle at Delphi, right enough to keep us
looking it up and looking out. A meteorite thrown

by a solar ray dressed in a ghostly sleeve of wind
that blocked the sun, and the dinosaurs lumbering

in a red-ash dusk, the bigger ones dying out.
Ice storms stalked a race of Neanderthals

unequipped with tamed wolves to hunt and
stay warm against the growing cold and so

they died out. Whether a volcano offset
the seasonal winds that brought the monsoons

to the Nile the year Cleopatra fell – a cracked silt
mighty river bed like an old woman’s face. Revolts

in Egypt, though the Queen wiser than the previous
Ptolemies, forbade grain exports, stored wheat

in public bins for public support. Whether weather
brought a bumper crop to the prairies (or not), a politician

was praised; then came drought, lentils like dried up teats
and the same politician was blamed. Resources were reaped

and the ground gaped with craters and gravel pits, blackened soil
and a mighty machine of a population ran their industries, their power

plants, their vehicles and devices that warmed
the hive of the earth as busy bees, and the planet

overheated: Good, no more winter, no
more unhappiness, sultry days ahead: we may

now plant watermelons and persimmons
as far as the Arctic Circle,

but crops do not grow out of shield rock:
the ice caps melting…

and the oceans rising… frequent floods
or no, droughts in the interior of continents. So

hard to tell the weather – whether this one a colder
with rimy trees down main street, really quite eerie

or warmer, is it? A rare yellow-breasted bunting
blown across Europe and an ocean

from a flooded rice paddy in China
landing in a neighbour’s backyard bird-feeder

was surely a sign of hope, wasn’t it?
Stan is plying the poor bedraggled thing with tropical seed

just hope it makes it through –
without a mate…

Meanwhile… homo sap would have
to sort it out:

So hard to do with the playground
of the world as he had conceived it
set out so solidly, unchangeably

before him: the ruts of his roads and infrastructures
whizzing (so shiny!) with transport
buzzing (quite grimy!) with industry

steaming lustily to the animals living out
of the way, ones that encroached on the expanding city, culled
or shot dead or hunted from some adrenalin-surged

memory of the hunt still red in his blood,
not to mention the usual road kill.

gillian harding-russell is a Regina poet, editor, and book reviewer. In 2016 her poem sequence “Making Sense” placed first in Exile’s Gwendolyn MacEwen chapbook competition, and a chunk of it will be published in Exile/ELQ vol42, no 1. Her fourth collection of poems, In Another Air (Radiant Press) has been shortlisted for the City of Regina Poetry Award.

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