Elizabeth Rush: Atlas with Shifting Edges
The Author of Rising on the Emergence Magazine Podcast
Emergence Magazine is a quarterly online publication exploring the threads connecting ecology, culture, and spirituality. As we experience the desecration of our lands and waters, the extinguishing of species, and a loss of sacred connection to the Earth, we look to emerging stories. Each issue explores a theme through innovative digital media, as well as the written and spoken word. The Emergence Magazine podcast features exclusive interviews, narrated essays, stories, and more.
In this episode of the podcast, Elizabeth Rush reflects on climate change as a transformational force on our landscapes and the words we might use to grasp this shifting reality. Her book Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore was recently nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for its rigorous reporting on America’s vulnerability to rising seas. This narrated essay is an account of the days she spent driving through the Pacific Northwest while on a tour for the book—a time of wildfires, loss, and possible futures.
From the episode:
Literary pilgrimages braid word and world. I start the day with a Robert Hass poem, the one that opens this way: “Tomales Bay is flat blue in the Indian summer heat.” Hours later I sit on a log at the water’s edge as the actual place unfurls: wide-winged predators, tidal channels, and the bay beyond. Tule and verbena and the sound of blue thistles touching in the dry heat. In the marsh, I found a deer hoof—just the hoof—skin still on the shin. The shin snapped clean right above the ankle. There were flies in the air, though I did not see the carcass anywhere.
The soil here is damp and dark. I sit surrounded by a sea of swollen-fingered succulents. People call this plant pickleweed because—well, because it looks like a bunch of pickles got together and formed a forest of bonsai pickle trees. Soon this forest will be underwater, not just temporarily but for good. Which is another way of saying I can’t stop thinking about the old maps and their moving edges.
Down at the marsh lip, next to no movement in the heat of midday. Still deeper in the soil, the rhizomatic language of bullgrass roots, the things they say during flight.