• Jessica Lee McMillan

Commonwealth of Life

Free Verse

“Blasted Tree” by Jasper Francis Cropsey, 1850. Wikimedia Commons

“But I am a blasted tree; the bolt has entered my soul.”

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


Splintered from commonwealth of life we arm language against earth with colonized words grant ‘it’ not selfhood nor autonomy of growth.

A possession for weekday raids taking double shifts to claim timber not tree …made for you and me.

And Sunday when the prodigal hangover returns, when almighty Earth fights back, we prostrate an Earth Day  — another manifest destiny —  in panic of dearth arrogantly parade on sterile lawns in self-adulation and the virtue of clean living.

But ugly as blood-soot, we  — all within six degrees —  debase Life to novelty, and counting of things  — not ‘we’ nor ‘she’ —  and we bed with industry and beget nuclear spring, texturing summer in fire-scour.

We, terrestrial beings, mightily exceptional human spectacle rusting to root, dust of sin for ill pronouns.

Sick weather friends, we, that blasted tree may relinquish hierarchy through kinship in speech.


The title and inspiration for this poem are credited to scientist and writer, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s revolutionary essay Speaking of Nature.

Jessica Lee McMillan © 2021

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