Poetry Friday: Witnessing the Insect Apocalypse


From the essay, “Loving a Vanishing World,” by Emily N. Johnston in ALL WE CAN SAVE:

“It’s a constant question for me every time I’m entranced by the beauty of this world: What does it mean to love this place? What does it mean to love anyone or anything in a world whose vanishing is accelerating, perhaps beyond our capacity to save the things that we love most?”

Here’s the 2018 NYTimes article about the insect apocalypse that’s been haunting me for four years.

This is not one of my more hopeful poems. It’s hard to witness the natural world fading away, but loving the world is the first step toward saving it.

Matt has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.

14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Witnessing the Insect Apocalypse”

  1. So happy to see this poem out in the world, Mary Lee. You have honored the “quiet, lowly, ungilded beings” (yes I’m quoting myself; see April 12), singing their “fewer, fewer, fewer” song. We’ve ridden 55 miles so far this week and complained of the mouthfuls of midges only once, realizing right away that we have to love the midges along with the turtles and the bluebells. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sad. One would think loving and saving the natural world would be something we could all get on board with. Unfortunately there is too much money to be made in the short term for the greedy.


  3. This hurts my heart, Mary Lee. But of course we have to let our hearts hurt if we are going to do anything about sustaining this planet. Yes, the grasshoppers were so abundant forty years ago.


  4. I confront this every time I don’t hear spring peepers. Where are the frogs and the crickets, I wonder? I complain about the spiders, but there aren’t even as many as there once were… It really is a slow leeching away of what we once had, and it’s so gradual that few of us stop to question.


  5. Your poem is a powerful and necessary witness statement, Mary Lee. Thank you for your vivid images captured before they fade completely.


  6. Mary Lee, your poem is a striking commitment to saving the earth in a month dedicated to the earth. Keep on crusading. The world needs more awareness. I just learned that during the new home construction in our community the good top soil was sold and we were left with rocks and clay. I was so shocked by this. What is left in the beds is not as conducive for planting. I am shocked that more attention was not made to save some of the soil to put back in the properties. Earth needs environmentalists and poets to address our vanishing earth.


  7. Oh, my God, Mary Lee, I hadn’t noticed because I was in Bahrain (where bugs were few and far between) and now in the desert (again, few insects). So we are leaving in a few days to drive across the country. I will take your poem and resources with me, as I notice the clean windshield. Thank you for your prophetic voice.


  8. Your poem is poignant, Mary Lee. I think you’ve captured that feeling of caring, of awareness, along with the helplessness that we can feel in the face of what we’re seeing (or not seeing, or noticing, as the case may be). Thank you for sharing this with us.


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