FOR SVANTE ARRHENIUS, ON THE PRESUMPTION OF PROGRESS
The word consensus does not exist
yet in the English language.
It will enter in 1847 in a medical text,
and its meaning will stay
roughly the same
Six miles above the earth
the breathing stops:
Victorian moths go
extinct when their wings fail
to blend in with soot-soaked bark.
There are places where old atmospheres
live inside the ice.
Science-eyes dissect these,
chock-full as they are with ancient dust
and sparks of the first breaths ever taken.
Our Cassandra’s hot-house
theory boils over:
gutters brimming with dead
horses and hubcaps.
He thought—we all thought—
we’d have more time.
Sticky molecules dance, crash
into words like troposphere and Coriolis—
atoms alter the Jetstream in triads,
pairs, complex conjugations,
as though the world splitting
down its axis would have an effect
on human affairs.
Heather Tourgee is a writer and student based in Salt Lake City. After receiving her BA from Middlebury College, she moved west to pursue an MA in Environmental Humanities, where she studies the relationship between narrative expression and environmental crises.