Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


The Arctic is On Fire [AUDIO]

in Audio/Health/Opinion by


& the West coast &
the East & Europe
is devastated & this June
has been the hottest on record & here,
July fires & a three-car pile-up
burns behind our window on the way
home from the children’s hospital
where it was so cold everyone
wore cardigans & I hid
under two blankets
beside my swaddled newborn
& she was on fire & fire
spread wild across all
21.5 inches of her & she
was a boreal forest & tundra’s
wilderness & I knew
swathes of her
could disappear too
if I wasn’t careful & as we waited
to be discharged & fire took
the earth & all the bodies
closest, the nurses brought
a one-year-old, spitting &
shitting fire, to share
our room & they draped
themselves heavy
in plastic so they too
wouldn’t burn & I heard
the girl’s mother refuse
vaccines & say her child
had been burning
for days now & no
water would douse
or hydrate her & I
started burning too,
rage & fear & rage
again & there are outbreaks
of measles & mumps & fires
we thought eradicated,
whooping cough & polio & rubella
& they say a mother
can lift a car or shift
the planet off its axis
to save her child & 3 million
die from what a vaccine could have
prevented & half the dead
are children under 5 & mine
laid exposed as new earth
& the burning arctic as another
mother held the extinguisher & let
all our children burn



Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach is the author of The Many Names for Mother (Wick Poetry Prize, 2019) and The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press, 2014). Her poems appear in POETRYAPR, and The Nation. She edits Construction Magazine.

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