This week’s poem, by Portland Poet Laureate Linda Aldrich, takes the form of notes jotted down – and sometimes crossed out – as the speaker listens to a talk. We can infer from the notes themselves – about missing songbirds, about ice – that climate change is the true subject at hand. I love how subtle and associative this poem is, how hauntingly its crossed-out lines hang in the space of the poem, and how it builds to such stark candor at its very end.

Aldrich currently serves as Portland’s sixth poet laureate and has published two collections of poetry, “Foothold” (2008) and “March” and “Mad Women” (2012). Her third collection,”Ballast,” is forthcoming from Deerbrook Editions in 2021.


Notes from the Library Lecture

By Linda Aldrich


How much does the songbird weigh

How much the song

the smallest hummingbird weighs less than a penny

would we feel it light on our hand

do we bother with pennies

a hummingbird takes 250 breaths a minute

can the exhalation move a feather

48 warblers weigh the one pound of coffee we drink in a week to wake up

we wake up  do we wake up

our earth is the tiniest blue eye sleepless and unblinking

3 billion birds are missing

finches sparrows blackbirds wrens

they weigh on us

glaciers weigh less than the water melting from them

our tears are heavier than ice

as far as we know

we are all we know

no one is coming to save us

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Notes from the Library Lecture” copyright © 2020 by Linda Aldrich, forthcoming in “Ballast” (Deerbrook Editions, 2021). It appears by permission of the author.

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