Emily Brontë’s Advice for the Ecozoic
“Hers is a Green and animal beyond…” —Stevie Davies, Emily Brontë
Enjoy every sandwich? Haworth was a maze
of multiplying middens, mills, the pumped-up
clouds of industry, heathered moors a haven
in a century’s shrinking space. Tempting, yes,
to stick to chores, scrub the parlour carpet,
remain, in fact, remote. But as the saying goes,
there is no later. This is later—arctic ice melts,
shears off; strange calvings stun the circumspect
to speech. If Emily were here today,
what would she say? Though twilight calls
for a generous pour, it’s better to learn dark
sonatas, the heart’s own haul of grief.
The soul’s compass is—or ought to be—
set straight for the storm. Some species
die without a fellow creature’s comfort—
sparrows sometimes fail to thrive when solitary.
I’ve read the auk’s line came unstrung as stumblers
dropped the eggs. Troubadours enshrine
the human truths—lies, betrayals, love
gone astray. What else would she tell us?
Aim to take dictation—a rabbit
grooming in the grass calls down the watchful hawk,
the robin’s clutch in turn attracts the foraging crow.
And would we listen to her counsel
as we stand stoic in the bracing air, embrace
the static stare of endlings? Look up, she’d say,
you will come to call them kin.
The animal gospel abides
in volumes abridged or complete—
the bridal flight of the swarm
spilling across weathered sills,
the crow worrying its rag of
mouse, a needful fable of stab &
—ballad of shrieks & bluster
above the stand of daisies, the heat-
tolerant shrubs. The seasons warm
& tributaries taper off; the cardinal
on the hedge tunes his hearing
toward an anthem of vanishings.
The sheared lawns roll on, pinched off
by picketed gates where surf sounds & sweet
harmonies linger. Upbraid me if I
forget the jade frenzy of grasshoppers
caught in a plastic superstore pouch,
the sleepwalker’s sanctuary broken
as the doe threads a stand of oak,
its tonnage pounding the fraught floor.
Jane Satterfield has received awards in poetry from the NEA, Bellingham Review, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Mslexia, and more. Her books of poetry are Her Familiars, Assignation at Vanishing Point, Shepherdess with an Automatic, and Apocalypse Mix, winner of the 2016 Autumn House Poetry Prize, selected by David St. John. Recent nonfiction is out in Hotel Amerika, Superstition Review, Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine, and Diagram. She is married to poet Ned Balbo and lives in Baltimore. Visit her at https://janesatterfield.org.