The Ice Core Sample

I am a long story,
Ten thousand feet long,
A hundred thousand years old,
A chronicle of lost time
Back to the first dark,
Too dark for telling;
I am every winter’s fall;
I am the keeper of the air?
Of all the vanished summers;
I honour the shadows of sorrows
That come to lie
Between my pages;
I distil lost atmospheres
Pressed into ghosts
Kept close to my cold heart.

And as for you –
What story would you like to hear?
On your two feet,
Tracking the snow
Two by two, two by two, two by two;
Here is the dust and music
Of your brief cities;
Here is the ash and smoke;
Here are your traffic jams?
And vapour trails;
Here are your holidays in the sun
And your masterpieces
And your pop songs;

Here are your first cries
And last whispers;
Here are your long sighs
Of disappointment.
Here is where it went right,
And where it went wrong.
Easy come. Easy go.

So I know why you slice
Moon after moon from me,
Holding each fragile face
Up to your searchlights;
Why you measure and record
The tiny cracks and snaps
Of my mysteries;
Because you know
You are the people
Who have changed nature –
And now you are on your own.

I have no more to tell.
No questions please
About the future
For now the great narrator
Takes over;
Listen carefully to her story
For you are in it.

From The Farewell Glacier