Connecticut-based, online Lime Hawk provides readers with “creative works that muse on environment, culture, and sustainability.” Issue 12 contains 15 pieces of poetry, prose, art, and filmography, and the website has a calm and quiet theme, gray text boxes floating over a mountain scene, which further sets the mood for the new work.
Musing on culture, Sasha Ingber gives readers a glimpse into Khanke camp in Iraq, which is home to children who have been displaced by ISIS. In “Singing Lessons in Khanke,” we’re offered just a tiny moment of time, one which Ingber writes beautifully and thoughtfully. She offers vivid descriptions of the girls, from their personal style: “hipped red toenails, black-penciled eyebrows, yellow and pink bead bracelets, and a butterfly hair clip glinting with rhinestones,” to the act of their singing itself, a description which stayed with me, drawing me back to it again and again:
What comes out of their mouths is soft and high-pitched, like children humming or birds chirping. The sum of these thirty-one voices barely fills the room. It is so achingly quiet.
Then Mamo says something in Kurdish and the girls’ laughter breaks the stillness. They laugh louder than they sing.
Ingber informs us of the past the girls were subjected to, and yet they still find joy in their butterfly clips, their songs, the jokes they share.
While Ingber brings these girls in Khanke to life for readers with her words, Eddie Shore uses film to give life to one of Pablo Neruda’s poems with “Amor, Amor.” In the film, Guillem Manzanares stands in an empty field, trees at the horizon, a glimpse of a city beyond that, the body of Manzanares the only other thing breaking the stillness as he recites the same four lines in Spanish, over and over, in order to memorize them. By the time the video ends, Neruda’s lines still echo as our own brains pick up the words like a song chorus.
The poetry in Issue 12 drew me to it, especially the ones rich in imagery as the poets discuss nature and the environment. The speaker in Amy Newday’s “The Skeletons of Lombardy Poplars: Backpacking North Manitou Island” reveals the way “wilderness is working, dismantling” the “[i]mported, alien” poplars on the island. Walking the island, “algae pools [ . . . ] stinking like a sewer,” the speaker picks up what trash they can, lamenting the sad irony of picking up trash from one polluted place on the planet just to distribute it to another place on the planet we have designated for pollution. While wilderness is capable of taking care of some of the damage we cause it, there are other areas where it starts feeling hopeless without action.
Similarly, Bridget Menasche begins “Form of Clouds” with lush descriptions of spring storms, which remind the speaker of time spent on Isla Coiba off the coast of mainland Panama. But there’s a turn from idyllic memories to now, when: “the storms crawl down in rain rather than snow, wrong /seasons bloom.” The speaker laments not painting certain memories, as if this could solidify their existence in the current environment. The poem unravels as the speaker lists the ways in which the world is dying: “[t]he Great Barrier crumbles,” “microorganisms branch through fracking cracks,” “the damned bees.” This is another poem that reminds us there’s only so much the planet can do to protect and regenerate itself before humans damage beyond repair, concluding: “The earth blossoms from cloud, until it doesn’t anymore. / Let us pray. Let this not be the only place where life has formed.”
David Crews writes of the “Saltmarsh Sparrow,” describing the details of the bird from its physical attributes: “ochre outlined head, gray ear patch, spot-streaked breast and flanks,” to its history: “Thought of by native inhabitants to be storyteller, keeper of myths. Totem spirit. [ . . . ] First recorded domestication of old world relative by Romans [ . . . ].” Crews ends on the modern data: “Recent nesting sites found unavailable due to rising sea level and influx of superstorms. Population numbers, despite evidence, dwindling rapidly upwards of 9% annually.” With this, Crews reminds us, like Newday and Menasche, that we’re damaging the planet which is endangering the wildlife that lives on it with us. Although approached in almost a clinical manner, the piece still reads as poetic and gathers attention.
Lime Hawk exists at a time when it is necessary, a creative reminder that we are responsible for what happens to the planet around us. We have read news articles and essays about the topic, but Issue 12 of Lime Hawk gives a refreshing outlook through the scope of thoughtfully-written poetry and prose.