Ashely Adams

An Interview with Rachel Carson

  1. Was it the morning trill of song sparrows or spring peepers that you missed when you sat down to work?
  2. Did you hear the soft, wet crunch of an osprey crushing her own eggs between the clack of your typewriter keys?
  3. What does it feel like to do good?
  4. What do you do when good is redefined? When good isn’t giving friendly advice on how to catch pumpkinseed fish?
  5. Does the truth eat lungs? Drip decay-scented chemicals from its nozzle fangs?
  6. How does it feel to have a country that you painted into something precious turn against you?
  7. There’s some irony in the USDA using ants to discredit you, but I can’t quite figure out how to word it, can you?
  8. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the worst thing we had to face was the nipping of ants?
  9. Would you be surprised to find that we’re still eager to fund weapons over how caring for the broken soil and rivers metal-kissed with rot?
  10. I assume you know I ask that for narrative purposes, not because I really believe you’d be surprised?
  11. Did I tell you I saw those stuffed little robins? And that the tour guide who showed them to me said they inspired you?
  12. Inspiration doesn’t seem the right word for a glass box full of birds that have been dead longer than I’ve been alive; what do you think?
  13. How do you survive the enormity of death and the way it claws through family?
  14. How do you cope with those who profit in extinction’s passage?
  15. Was it her arm hooked in yours?
  16. And the sea pooled around both of your ankles, gently pulling you away from the shore?
  17. Did you both love nature like I do?
  18. Because there’s no way a human can love or shape their body that can shock a world full of octopus and komodo dragons and nematodes just above the molten core of the Earth?
  19. Do you mind that I’m reading my personal thoughts on to you a bit?
  20. Or on nature?
  21. Sorry, I know you weren’t a fan of sentimentality and anthropomorphizing of nature, but I kind of need this one, you know?
  22. Why did she burn your letters?
  23. Could she have least done something else to destroy them? Don’t you know I’m tired of smoke and the pretty sunsets they make?
  24. Couldn’t she have thrown them into the ocean you both so loved?
  25. Tossed them into the sea breeze, unable to separate them from the gray and white tangle of gull wings?
  26. Would she leave or watch them until they fell back down into the waves and melt away like glaciers?
  27. Why is it you’ve been dead for decades and still men try to push the blood of the insect sickened under your fingernail?
  28. And say your ghost speaks in a malaria hum?
  29. Isn’t that just the way it is; a woman says no to the taking and their name grows sour in the mouth?
  30. Do you think that sourness also tastes like pesticide?
  31. Maybe we should go back to the ocean?
  32. Do you think we love the ocean because it is so old we can’t hold all the years it’s lapped the shoreline in our mind? Or the way it will outlive us and anything we’ve built?
  33. Maybe just like ants?
  34. Or do we come back to the ocean for some other reason?
  35. Is it the fish’s cry buried somewhere in our hips?
  36. Why can we find such beauty in the way water swallows the land we stand on?
  37. Or the way life can bend and thrive even with all the world’s water and darkness pressing it down into the mire?
  38. Can you tell me how we tell others that the moist and mud-covered are things to be loved?

    Ashely Adams is a queer, swamp-adjacent writer whose work has appeared in Paper Darts, Fourth River, Permafrost, Apex Magazine, and other places. She is the nonfiction editor of the literary journal Lammergeier.

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