Friday, July 23, 2010

Green Trees

Nalini Nadkarni, a celebrity among forest ecologists, has a moving piece in Poetry:

An excerpt:

"[T]he fragility of trees must also be acknowledged. Scientific studies document that the tiny mandibles of a bark beetle can bring quick death to a jungle giant. A tropical fig tree species c
an go extinct if humans pump enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise the global temperature a single degree. Gail Mazur evokes this fragility in “Young Apple Tree, December”:

What you want for it you’d want
for a child: that she take hold;
that her roots find home in stony

winter soil; that she take seasons
in stride, seasons that shape and
reshape her; that like a dancer’s,

her limbs grow pliant, graceful
and surprising; that she know,
in her branchings, to seek balance;

that she know when to flower, when
to wait for the returns; that she turn
to a giving sun; that she know

fruit as it ripens; that what’s lost
to her will be replaced; that early
summer afternoons, a full blossoming

tree, she cast lacy shadows; that change
not frighten her.

Perhaps the deepest value of poetry for scientists is its articulation of the feelings that scientists themselves harbor for what they study—passion, deep curiosity, and a sense of stewardship."

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