Florida Everglades by Amir Hussain

[Again and again I marry the earth]

Again and again I marry the earth,
the shore by the grass,
the loon on the tree,
and the heavy deer felled on the highway
                who looks at me as I drive past.

I am married to the parrot’s colors
and the tree that is being felled by the chopper
                of trees
                is also my lover.

The wind is heavy with laughter and the cries
                of parents
                and the trouble is that nobody knows
                which is which.

Let me marry the sand,
and the clay,
and the red dust of the earth
that my brother, the elephant, raises.

I put on a tuxedo
and walk to earth’s altar with bare feet

where I marry a flower,
                white with petals,
                yellow with joy.

I marry a tree and the bird
                in the tree,
the soil at our feet
attending the quiet ceremony.

Then I marry the soil, red clay, the traveling dunes
                and their hundred-year-old sands.

By walking I marry the wind
                and the small turtle prints
                on the sand

                that lead to the seas.



Our tendency as a culture to judge others’ worth by their ability to communicate with us is an example of the arguments we often use for or against ethical treatment. Because animals don’t have (human) language-making capabilities, one argument goes, they are different enough to be excluded from our ethical realm of consideration. It is their silence—their presumed inability to “talk” to us—that seals their fate. I see the ecocentered poem—a poem that is fundamentally concerned with relationships and responsibilities between humans and nature—as a place to counter that tendency.

For now in the Gulf region, some animals are garnering great sympathy and great moral outrage for their plight in the oil-saturated marshes and coastal areas. Recall the already-iconic photograph from the spill where a bird surfaces like a breast-stroke swimmer from dark water, mired in thick, brown, mud-like oil from head to claw, save a peering eye which has the look of prehistoric shock. The bird appears in the photograph as a mud-flesh hybrid creature of mythic proportions, an icon of the countless birds, turtles, fish and other animal species that have been injured or destroyed by the massive oil spill. What do the corpses of these individual animals invoke in the mind’s eye? They make us consider their fate—who they were, what they have become. They make us reconsider the soundness of a progress narrative that promotes detachment, wealth accumulation, and ethical inconsistency. Ecocentered poetry offers a different way to attach to the earth and in doing so presents a different order of things.


Amir Hussain resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he attends the University of Minnesota as a graduate student in the MFA program in creative writing. He is working on a collection of poems about the relationship between family history, culture, and the natural environment. Amir earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and English from the University of Pittsburgh.

13 thoughts on “AGAIN AND AGAIN I MARRY THE EARTH by Amir Hussain

  1. The language and pacing progresses so naturally that I feel the absence of the turtle gone to sea and marry him in that still space this poem creates. I especially enjoy “the soil at our feet attending the quiet ceremony.”

  2. The power of the word and concept of marriage, marrying, or to marry…this idea of finding someone we love, someone so very special, “to marry” , this is totally amazing what you do to list these animals in this context, making the reader struggle as they do in the oil, to figure out what we could see in each type of animal, but only for a second, lest the point be lost…I felt it made me think of all the creatures of earth as potentials…… someone to whom we might consider devoting our lives, companionship, and consider as equals…partners ! Amazing. Food for much much thought. Thank you for writing and for cultivating your voice.

  3. Your poem of belonging with them, walking to them, the parrot and loon, grasses, and sea, is so beautifully, simply formed by the truth of your feelings. I will not forget tis poem. Thank you.

  4. Hello Amir. I appreciate the intimacy created by the concept of marriage to birds, to sand, to ocean. A life-long commitment, a vow to nature. And, though not a part of the poem at all, the poem did make me think of protests against gay marriage as something that would lead to people wanting to marry animals. Your poem suggests that that really isn’t such a bad idea after all. What if we all vowed to care for the sickliest of birds, the most “unadoptable” pup?

  5. Amir, I love this poem. I love pace; it feels like a steady heartbeat, but also like the rhythm of footsteps moving steadily forward. And I love the ideas you express about speaking for those who have no (human) voice, whose communication we can’t understand. I believe the issues you mention in your commentary about detachment and ethical inconsistency are fundamental for us to take on. Thanks for such a beautiful poem and statement.

  6. Thank you. I will read this poem at a workshop on ecosexecology at easter 2014 – beautiful words. thank you Amir. I will be sure to credit you.

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