“And I would travel with you…”

And I would travel with you

to the places of our shame

To hills stripped of trees, the marsh grasses

oil-slicked, steeped in sewage;

The blackened shoreline, the chemical-poisoned water;

I would stand with you in the desolate places, the charred places,

soil where nothing will ever grow, pitted desert;

Fields that burn slowly for months; roots of cholla and chaparral

writhing with underground explosions

I would put my hand

there with yours, I would take your hand, I would walk with you

Through carefully planted fields, rows of leafy vegetables

drifting with radioactive dust; through the dark

of uranium mines hidden in the sacred gold red mountains;

I would listen to you in drafty hospital corridors

as the miner cried out in the first language

Of pain; as he cried out

the forgotten names of his mother

I would stand

next to you in the forest’s

Final hour, in the wind

of helicopter blades, police

Sirens shrieking, the delicate

tremor of light between

Leaves for the last

time. Oh I would touch with this love each

Wounded place

Anita Barrows: “Psalm” quoted in Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown (1998 New Society Publishers) pg 38.