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Thank you very much for listening.
Hi, everyone. My name is Catherine Rockwood, and today for the Reckoning Magazine Podcast, I’m going to be reading “Move, Mountain, Move” by the author Russell Nichols.
So, I’ll begin with some commentary on the poem and then tell you a little bit more about Russell Nichols and then read you the poem itself.
What affects me when I read this poem is its insistence that we can make something new and better—something external to, and common to, all of us—from our climate grief. And Russell Nichols has used old images, Biblical images, to show us how to imagine this something better. You’ll notice there’s a mention of mustard seeds in the poem, confirming its close literary relationship with the Book of Matthew chapter 17:20, where Jesus says to his disciples “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
A mustard seed is proverbially tiny, and yet the plant that emerges from the seed is tall—so through this simile we understand, both in the Bible and in Nichols’s poem, that if you have even a little bit of germinal matter to start with, you can turn it into something very meaningful and expansive indeed. In the Bible, the germinal matter is faith; in Nichols’s poem, it is grief. We must start there, he argues, but we do not end there. If you’re a Reckoning reader and subscriber, you probably agree.
When Nichols writes, “there is no relief/ without release,” I think of how often the speaker (or singer) of the Psalms mentions weeping, and the necessity of weeping, in times of trouble. As the King James version of Psalm 6:6 has it: “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.” And this is how we communicate our grief and make it manifest—but in Nichols’s poem, it is also how we build.
Here is a little more about the author.