HEATHER TOURGEE

 

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

for decades. 

 

Six miles above the earth 

the breathing stops:

hard gas-dome-trap.

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.

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