For September

I took this photo somewhere in Flatiron, Manhattan .. the picture is by artist named dirtCobdin

Hurricane Ida’s remnants created deadly havoc in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York days after the system hit the Gulf Coast — some 1,000 miles away (npr.org)

Yesterday, a cloud burst in mythologies 
and the rain fidgeted over the retreat

of a tidal pantheon; deities swept away
by a current, and we stood awhile, watching

the moon elbow out the dusk. Breathing
is burdensome when cars float on water

and corpses leak out of cavernous
basements. Every tablet, etched, in the cold

heart of building code was read again
and then again. It wasn't enough to blame

Aeolian whim or the raging riposte of Apollo,
now that we had marvelled away Gaia's

ozone skirt. Her amnion always leaked
in folkloric floods each time she birthed

a parable. She once asked Noah to build
an ark so he could ride her waves

and we scrape the sky to impale her 
in shards where her womb is soft and yielding,

as we sour the air and burn the water and strip
her of her emerald sigh and melt her hills

and silt her wetlands. Mostly it was the asphalt
plastering her yearning that calcified her veins

and arteries, as she died slowly under our feet
we could hardly fathom her sorrow for the tears

rolled off her torso like an oil slick
and rode far into the subway for sewers.

Notes on hurricane Ida:

Hurricane Ida was the second-most damaging hurricane to strike the U.S. state of Louisiana on record, behind only Hurricane Katrina. The remnants of hurricane killed at least 43 people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and left more than 150,000 homes without power on Wednesday, the first of September [1] The streets and subway platforms turned into rivers with the deluge of rain, people were trapped in their cars and some washed away by flash floods. A tornado (strength F-3) leveled houses in Mullica Hill, New Jersey with estimated winds of 150 miles per hour.

According to Tripti Bhattacharya (earth and environmental sciences at Syracuse University) whose research on regional rainfall and climate change was cited in the U.N.’s recent climate change report, hurricane Ida had just the right mix of weather conditions in place to fuel the system. The remnants of Ida met another system, an extra tropical front and combined to create heavy rainfall of er New York and New Jersey. Ida also spent time over a warm waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico which allowed it to intensify very quickly. As atmosphere warms due to the changing climate, it can hold more moisture which translates to excessive rainfall [2]

‘For every 1 degree Celsius of global warming, the atmosphere can hold roughly 7 percent more water vapor. Cities like New York are often more vulnerable to sudden downpours because so much of their land area is paved over with impervious surfaces like asphalt, which means that runoff is channeled into streets and sewers rather than being absorbed into the landscape’ [3]

There is need to take a hard look at city infrastructure, carbon emissions, infrastructure for improved and accurate weather forecasts in addition to looking at vulnerability maps and how that maps onto income for those that are hardest hit by such unpredictable weather.

The need for climate responsive architecture:

|Climate-responsive architecture functions in lockstep with the local climate(temperature, historical weather patterns, etc.), the direction of the sun (sun path and solar position), site-specific environmental conditions (such as wind, rainfall, humidity), seasonality and also taking into account the natural shade provided by the surrounding area and topography to design pleasant buildings which ensure physiological comfort of users, energy-efficient buildings with reduced reliance on artificial energy|[4]

References:

[1]~https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/live/2021/09/02/nyregion/nyc-storm.amp.html

[2]~https://www.npr.org/2021/09/03/1034058911/hurricane-ida-climate-change-northeast-flooding-rainfall

[3]~https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/09/03/nyregion/nyc-flooding-ida#ida-delivery-workers-safety

[4]~https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/rtf-fresh-perspectives/a1060-what-architects-must-know-about-climate-responsive-architecture/

Inversion

It was on a walk along the Lenape trail earlier today, through Mills Reservation in Essex County, that we spotted this mushroom.

As most of us know, a mushroom is only the fruiting body of the fungal mycelium that runs subterranean. And here in this forest were a variety of trees with roots that branched beneath the surface. As Robert Kourik in his work ‘Roots Demystified’ mentions [1] “While one rule of limb has been that a tree’s roots are one and one-half to three times wider than the foliage, other investigators estimate an irregular root pattern four to seven times the crown area; and, still other researchers maintain that the root extension can be four to eight times wider than the dripline of the tree, but only under certain conditions.” 

Leafy excess

This evening, something triggered me to compare the subterranean systems to John Gray’s idea of atheists as inverted believers. It may have simply been the word ‘inverted’ or the pessimistic philosopher himself that struck me, whose work I read with keen interest a few years ago. Terry Eagleton wrote of Gray’s book ‘Seven Types of Atheism’ in 2018 [2], that according to Gray, most humanists are atheists and have substituted humanity for God and that the  popular belief of atheism and religion as opposites, is a mistake. Religions are not theories of the world but forms of life and are less systems of belief than acts of faith and therefore he considered many fanatical atheists as no more than inverted believers. I am curious about this idea just as I am about a tree or a mushroom. I find a tree to be that sort of organism that has its lungs on the outside while the being itself remains embedded in the Earth, just like the mushroom emerges from its subterranean mycelium.

Gills

Well, my poem is not about John Gray or mushrooms or the Lenape or atheists, it is actually on the concept of inversion in trees. I must thank John Gray for inspiring this thought, though.

A seed lay buried to fate in a copse of stately Oak / Leafy susurrations in the crown above, seem to ruffle a verdant cloak / like wind subdued grasses in a glade //

Germination is but an adventitious murmur / seeking the depth of a dark silence / in roots swaddling the Earth like it would have simply crumbled otherwise //

The tree of life is scattershot / hidden from the eye of the Sun / It bends whichever way in seeking baptismal waters / sunk in the innards of the Globe //

There then, where roots are girdled / they chase around themselves in sacred enclosures until / they have choked the trunk to their aerial lung // 

In such viridescence resides poetry / a glint and shimmer until the flicker of Fall / but the trees themselves remain embedded in the mythology of loam //
Speckled in light, unfortunately

References:

[1]Roots Demystified, Chapter 9,  Robert Kourik, 2008. (He did his research for this chapter at the UC Agricultural Libraries at Berkeley and Davis in the late 1980s)~https://www.deeproot.com/blog/blog-entries/how-wide-do-tree-roots-spread

[2]~https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/11/seven-types-atheism-john-gray-review-atheist-believer-material-worldf