It can’t happen here.
Not here
not now
not in this place
this place
where I’ve spent so many seasons
and found so many reasons
to live.

This land is my body
this clay soil
that feeds the seeds
that grow the kale
that feeds me
rebuilding every cell
with shades of green.
These waters are my blood
these creeks and streams
rain falling from above
aquifers rising from below
quenching my thirst
and flowing through my heart
to become a part of me.

I have walked these hills
these ridges and hills
bottoms and hollows
farmland and wildwood.
I have met these people
these deep-rooted people
children of farmers
who weathered floodwaters
and dry, cracked soil
children of miners
who breathed soot
and battled scabs
children of ex-slaves
who endured beatings
and lynchings and shootings
while marching for freedom
children of students
who shut down a university
in the hopes of stopping a war.

After all of this and more
how can it happen here?
How can they come here
to this place
to these people
to drill their deep wells
to fracture the shale
to fill the deep holes
with truck after truck
after truck after truck
of chemical soup?
I know what it looks like.
I’ve seen it on my screen
the massive wellheads
devouring farmland and wildwood
the thousands of trucks
drinking clean water
and spitting out poison
the twisted bodies of cows
and piles of pills and bills
the invisible methane
choking the air of an entire world
the staccato stuttering
of neighboring fault lines
trembling in response
to explosions deep underground.
I’ve seen it all happen
but always over there
out there somewhere
not here.
where my food grows
and my water flows
and so many people I know
call home.
where the wind in the trees
awakened me
to the presence
of a living land.
where cancer isn’t just a statistic
where it means I have to look into the eyes
of a mother whose child is sick
where it means I have to hold
a small, delicate human being
who doesn’t understand the headaches
doesn’t understand the nausea
doesn’t understand why
someone thought
it was worth the risk
for some quick cash
or political points.

There are so many
other ways to do this
so many other ways
to turn on the lights
to keep hands busy
to put food on the table.
This doesn’t need to happen
not anywhere
and certainly not here.
It can’t happen here
and it won’t happen here
as long as we’re here
to stop it.

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