Category This Toxic Life

When words inspire music

Swimming Upstream, a chamber opera in four scenes, explores water, our emotional connection to water and rivers and streams. It is a reaction to what humans have done to the planet – dammed streams and rivers, upended ecosystems, contaminated drinking water.  Composer Sheree Clement reached out to me in Fall of 2017. She read The President’s […]

seven ducks swim through water and ice

Goldeneye ducks on the Penobscot

April has turned to May, and the goldeneye ducks have left their winter home on the Penobscot River and headed north to Canada for the breeding season. They are a highlight of winter, and a curiosity in that they seem to like one particular reach of the river. I was watching and thinking about the […]

Holtrachem mercury – It’s still here.

The Department of Marine Resources has closed upper Penobscot Bay to fishing after a court-ordered study found elevated concentrations of mercury in crab and lobster. Mercury pollution comes from lots of places, but this particular part of the Penobscot is a hotspot of contamination thanks to Holtrachem, a now-closed plant that made chlorine and other […]

New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, 2010

This essay was a finalist in Terrain‘s 2011 annual contest. I. Dimension At first, I see the lake, and then the wetlands, splotches of green amid the blue as far as I can see through the tiny oval airplane window. After the hurricanes, after the oil—we are late. The first random dot stereogram was invented […]