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poetry The Calving Age

Climate change; glacial melting: Northern California poet Kirk Glaser depicts what's already happening, forecasts where we're all heading.

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The Calving Age

By Kirk Glaser

The latest iceberg, ten times the size of the isle
of Manhattan, has dropped from the Antarctic
coast and slowly drifts from its cold mother,
caught in a digital stream by satellites that feed
the sight to the spellbound who study displacement
of ocean soaring higher than the greatest buildings;
the crack of thunder as the berg broke free
is silent to all eyes, except, perhaps, to a pod
of tourists in refitted ice cutters paying dear
to watch the spectacle of end time’s beginning—
glacial tongues spilling mountain ranges of ice
into warming seas, drifting north to death.
Fantastic ciphers of the future birthed
an ice age ago: listen in the soul for the cracks
and drips, the fracturing of years before
they let loose; imagine the sun-sharpened edges,
the terrible beauty of burning light,
shadow blues of almost night in ice ravines,
the black wall blotting stars over unsuspecting ships,
whose crushed container hulls spill plastic dolls,
engines, land mines, frozen slabs of flesh into southern seas,

while below whales swim around the great body,
feeding on plankton and krill among the cold swirls
of melting ice enough to engulf a city.
Will children pick up shards on southern coasts
to build a house that melts around their play
or carry home in hands, dripping to nothing?
What pity for those in our cars on the coastal
freeway when the waves wash over the road
and we watch through the windshield the sky
grow watery, our thoughts a liquefaction
of desires drifting away from us as our hands
grow light on the wheel, feet drift from pedals,
and seawater fills our mouths, eyes turn to pearls,
bones to coral, and we wonder at those who plot seawalls:
what they wall in and what out, in their final days.

Kirk Glaser’s poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Nimrod, The Threepenny Review, Sand Hill Review, The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, Sou’wester, Alsop Review, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. Awards for his work include an American Academy of Poets Prize and C. H. Jones National Poetry Prize. He teaches writing and literature at Santa Clara University, where he serves as faculty advisor to the Santa Clara Review. He is completing work on a young adult science fiction novel, The Runner Between Worlds.