Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Earth Etude for Elul 26: You Were Wrong

by Ben Weilerstein

I

You were wrong about environmentalism, man, no that’s not what I think no, I’m not really an environmentalist because if I say I am you’ll say in your head I’m saying things you don’t think need to be said, out loud, at all so, no, I’m not an environmentalist and I don’t feel a rush of flight, of my heels lifting up off the ground when I recycle a plastic bottle not like I do when I recite over and over again until it doesn’t leave my head for years,  “stop! the! pipeline!”

or something like that, y’know my voice woven into hundreds and thousands of others because dammit this isn’t about me

this isn’t about me, maybe you can tell I’m tired because wouldn’t it be nice if I could just lie down and rest in a bed of moss like I liked to imagine when I was younger and

I wouldn’t have to keep telling you and them and everybody else that I’m not really into the environment and what even is the environment and I could stand on top of a wind-whipped rainswept mountain up north and let my heels lift higher than I thought they could and god please could I now

maybe I can’t tell you I’m tired because you’re tired of other tired people telling you what to do all day and shit, man, that’s tiring, too

II

maybe I didn’t listen enough

maybe I didn’t ask you to listen to me enough, not to my words, no, to me, because if I did I thought you wouldn’t want to and then I didn’t know how you would know you were listened to and heard and then I don’t know what you would do

maybe it’s hard to care and nobody cared to teach us how and no matter how high my feet fly it still won’t heal me

III

I’m writing this on a train after work.

After seeing a replica of my hometown where the football field was the same and the old train station and the new train station were the same and grass clippings still fresh and drying smelled exactly the same and if you just squinted the right way in the right corners the sunset could take your breath away, but those fields and lawns and the bodies among them were deep in a different nightmare where everything was poison,

where the streets were filled with poison and the shortcuts kids took to get to school, or even better, out of it, were covered in puddles of poison as colorful as the graffiti lining our shortcut but so much better at killing,

where many days many years ago a father came home from work at the chemical dye plant sweating in color, his body releasing the poison it absorbed that day,

where everybody knows somebody who died, preventably, of cancer.

I’m writing this on a train after work.

Two people were fighting and then hugging, and crying and hugging. They ran off the train together.

IV

I love you, I think.

I love you as much as any friend anyway

and for the sake of my heels I hope that’s a hell of a lot.


Ben Weilerstein is Toxics Action Center’s Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island Organizer. Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, the Greater Boston area became home for Ben when he studied at Tufts University. There, he spent some of his time completing a BS in Chemistry and most of his time organizing around fossil fuel divestment and other climate justice issues. His organizing experience also includes completion of a Climate Summer internship, during which he helped organize communities in Western Massachusetts to stop a fracked gas pipeline. Ben is currently a JOIN for Justice Fellow. Ben is based in the Boston and Providence offices, where he helps communities organize to protect their health and the environment.


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