Tuesday, March 15, 2011


First there is heartbreak of the personal kind--familial, love, and this kept me from writing.  It emptied me out for a while.  Now there is heartbreak of a different sort--huge, vast, beyond comprehension--the death of thousands and thousands, disaster, nuclear madness.

It has been days and days of dismay.  Sorrow for the Japanese.  The news is profoundly alarming and everyone I meet is going on their merry way, barely noticing a country called Japan.

Nuclear madness--the words of Helen Caldicott.

I teach my classes and talk about safety and power, energy and sustainability, poetry and words.  Ironically, we just watched Silkwood and we read Terry Tempest Williams' Refuge--a memoir of cancer, nuclear bombs and Mormon downwinders.  To have this happen--to bring in newspaper clippings and have it all right in our faces--beyond shocking.  Of course there is water and walls and cities crashing and people smothered and destroyed--too much to take in--too many of all the disaster movies I've been watching these past few years--about nuclear disaster, and climate disaster.  The Day After, The Day After Tomorrow, all those last man on earth movies.  Creepy.  Haunting.

What would Rachel Carson say?  Man's hubris?

Teaching is healing.  My students--so many of them--innocent and yet not at all so.  I do feel maternal with them.  I never used to.  Maybe I'm becoming more of a mother as I age, as my own daughter ages.

In the car tonight (oh oil--!), my daughter says, "In school they said nuclear energy is renewable. Is it renewable, mom?"

Is it renewable?  How do I answer that question?  I don't know where to begin.

It was a brief moment.  (I keep listening to the radio--just an ear out to see if a plume will get to California where I have so many loved ones.)  
Charlie--he's still in Japan--I keep checking his mom's facebook page to see if he's back yet, and feeling guilty that I can't do something.

I said, "Honey, we'll go home and study up on nuclear fission and nuclear plants.  We'll talk about it. Together."

She asks, "Did they know there would be earthquakes?"  Why yes, dear, they did.

Tonight I will not sleep. 

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