Rachel Carson in Palmerton by Lara Dolphin
Once upon a time silence was prized, protected and paid for by
conductors, stationmasters and stockholders of this unassuming
underground railroad stop, which conveyed runaway slaves
through vast acres of dense forest to the safety of more northern cities.
Then came big zinc deforesting the mountain, denuding the landscape
a wasteland of Burtonesque trees, devoid of life petrified and dead.
Whispers passed between hikers along the Appalachian trail,
“Do not drink the water,” they said and kept on walking.
The founder of environmental science shakes her head
as she tours the Superfund site scratching her wig and wondering
why it takes 234 scientists citing 14,000-plus papers
to realize that nature needs some help.
From behind the fettered doors of Saint George,
Palmerton’s Russian Orthodox Church,
hushed prayers take wing rising above the petrified moonscape
floating to the far corners of this moribund planet.
These quiet devotions from this town in the heart of America
arrive at last in the boreal forests of Yakutia
speaking in tongues only the sacred woods would understand
letting them know that nothing exists alone even when it’s all allowed to burn.
Lara Dolphin is an attorney, nurse, wife and mom of four amazing kids; she is exhausted and elated most of the time.