Anne Hanson
Florida, New York, United States

I Think of You Wondering

“In school ... you learned all about the Era of Excess”

I start my car and think of you wondering
how it was that, so long ago, we drove alone,
even at speeds that wasted our gas,
now that most of the oil is gone
and few have cars.

How was it, you’d wonder, having no limits
on yearly mileage or gallons
of water per household?
and to have citrus any time of the year?

In school, you would tell me,
you learned all about the Era of Excess,
how business and industry
sought out water and oil and gas for profit,
letting wastewater and chemicals
float into rivers and into the air;

and how writers and scientists warned us
that limits were breached,
and offered up safer technologies.
But we had learned
that our lifestyle was normal.
Dial up the heat. Click on the light,
the tv, the frig.
Open the spigot and water comes out.

I hasten to tell you that I did
reuse paper towels,
and recycled cans.
But you laugh, reminding me
of the vast difference:
my small pile of cans
versus those huge machines
cracking the earth with jets of strong fluids
for more natural gas,
and prying apart the rocks in the oceans.
Jobs would be lost.
Travel expensive.

You tell me that you have seen
films of our world:
vast lakes full of fish, fresh water streams,
people on boats catching oysters and clams,
dense forests full of game now extinct.

No gas masks? you ask.
No dosimeters?
No living underground?