Back in 1990 No One Objected When My Students Hung Earth Day Posters All Over Braselton, Georgia

They’d been assigned groups to make them: disappearing
habitats, greenhouse effect, reduce-reuse-recycle.
On the chalkboard I tacked up a 1970s Earth Day poster
from my mother’s classroom,
a black-and-white of kids bent down to plant a tree,
one of the few things I still had of hers.

When the day came, we tie-dyed shirts,
and I bought everyone a plastic visor to paint,
a celebration of our earth. I did not know much.
We marched around the school with signs, hats, shirts,
hung our posters at the drugstore, at the grocery, at city hall,
made a spectacle as everyone cheered us on.

We composted, dumping our trays of mashed potatoes,
greens, and chicken bones into a pile outside
until the maggots came and the custodian yelled at us.
I was young. My students listened, though. To me.
To 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth.

We were all new and fierce to protect.
Mostly the other adults left us alone, and somehow still
we knew to bless, believe and care for.
Now these kids are middle-aged, Richie, Sarah, Johnnie-Sue.
I wonder what they recall. One wrote me just this year,
said I’d scrambled tofu in a wok, given him some shoes.

So many years ago. The whole earth of us.

Read on . . .

Feeding the Compost Heap,” a poem by Alberto Álvaro Ríos