Writing the Requiem Days

yucca plant in bloom in the Mojave Desert

Guest post by Aimee Nezhukumatathil


Dear Reader, I confess I have not been having very “poetic” impulses lately. I type this from the haze of late-night feedings and though I may think of a line or two during those navy blue colored early mornings, if I don’t get pen to paper immediately, Poof, the lines are gone by daylight. I’ve taken to keeping a notebook near each of the rocking chairs in the house so when I am nursing Jasper and a line flickers across the filaments of light in the bedroom, I am ready.
Too bad it only took me a month or so to think of this solution! At any rate, I recently came across this article that highlighted some of the world’s oldest organisms. And seeing pictures of all this old vegetation was the first instance in over a month that finally charged into me. Soon enough, I started working on my first poem since my son was born. Take a look at the video:
Among my favorite pictures are the Llaretta plant in Chile that looks like an otherworldly oozy scoop of green bubbles. Or the twelve thousand year old yucca plants from the Mojave Desert. Imagine what those plants have witnessed over the years!

I quite agree with nature writer Terry Tempest Williams when she says in her essay “A Shark in the Mind of One Contemplating Wilderness”:

Everything feels upside down these days, created for our environment. Requiem days. The natural world is becoming invisible, appearing only as backdrop for our own human dramas and catastrophes. […] Perhaps if we bring art to the discussion of the wild, we can create a sensation where people will pay attention to the shock of what has always been here.
So there you have it, Dear Reader. What poems or stories or essays illuminate and crack open a gust of wind inside you when you read about the natural world? Or do you think nature writing isn’t your thing?


Might I suggest the fine collection of nature poetry, Black Nature, edited by the ever-talented (and new mama!) poet/professor Camille Dungy. Or anything by Pattiann Rogers, including this book. Or chime in below with a favorite place in nature that you have been itching to write about, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Even though the Sussman photos show organisms that have been around for ages, what if these are indeed requiem days? Get pen to paper. Fingers to keyboard. Let’s get writing!
This is Aimee’s fifth post for Get Behind the Plough.

Images: 1, 2, and 3