What were we doing when the last golden toad
came to a dry pool in Monteverde to find a mate
and waited, lovelorn, and waited, despondent?
Do you suppose we were driving somewhere?
Perhaps we had the air conditioner on;
perhaps the tape player was playing a song
we only half liked.
What were we doing the next spring,
when no golden toads appeared in Monteverde?
Did we deliver pizza, keeping the engine running
as we knocked on doors?
Did one of our deliveries take us past the power plant,
coal-fired and immense, puffing gray smoke into the sky
like a sunbather smoking a cigarette?
What were we doing in the second-warmest year
on record, when the Antarctic Peninsula’s
Larsen B ice shelf — as large
as the island of Hawaii — collapsed?
What football game were we watching?
What gossip did we share?
What terrorist threat troubled us at night?
(What color code had we been warned with,
and what color would be appropriate to warn us now
of our melting world?)
Greenland’s ice sheets, holders
of eight percent of the world’s fresh water,
are melting by twelve cubic miles per year.
What were we drinking this morning?
Whom will we toast tonight?
Where will we be when Greenland’s name
becomes tragically fitting?
What will we be doing when seawater invades
lower Manhattan and Miami and San Francisco
and Beijing and all of Bangladesh?
Which of us on high ground will invite
one of the millions of refugees into our home?
Where will we go when the water is at our door?
Where will we go when season after season torrid rains
are followed by blistering sun and no crop will grow?
Who will tell the children what happened?
Who will be the golden child,
our last, to walk to the edge of the dry pool
and wait?