Watch Your Head
Coach House Books, 2020
A warning, a movement, a collection borne of protest.
In Watch Your Head, poems, stories, essays, and artwork sound the alarm on the present and future consequences of the climate emergency. Ice caps are melting, wildfires are raging, and species extinction is accelerating. Dire predictions about the climate emergency from scientists, Indigenous land and water defenders, and striking school children have mostly been ignored by the very institutions – government, education, industry, and media – with the power to do something about it.
Writers and artists confront colonization, racism, and the social inequalities that are endemic to the climate crisis. Here the imagination amplifies and humanizes the science. These works are impassioned, desperate, hopeful, healing, transformative, and radical.
This is a call to climate-justice action.
Cover design by Ingrid Paulson
...Watch Your Head does not disappoint. It serves as a warning to heed, a reminder to be thought of often, and a well-thought-out piece of art. Throughout the anthology, readers encounter pieces that provoke and insist, demanding attention, consideration, action, and creativity. Essays and stories and images alike bring about questions and statements on Indigenous rights, white privilege, exploitation of land and people, colonial power structures, place, home, language, and imagination.
This anthology is not to be missed. The pandemic may have defined our year, but the climate crisis defines our time in geological history. See how this roster of talented writers and artists advance the conversation, put the crisis in context and call for climate justice.
LE TEMPS DES CERISES
Massacre in my kitchen, the counter
spatter incarnadine, my hands bloodied
with the juice of cherries splayed, gutted,
for dessert at a friend’s; my fingers dyed a red
that keeps in the fine creases, under the nails,
through the next day’s breakfast, lunch. I tremble
to sacrifice none of this, even though the cherries, local,
organic, spoke to me, insisting on their innocence, the plump,
burgundy wholeness of them. I didn’t think
to spare them, never do; not them, nor the shrimp
I clean for my son’s home-coming dinner,
each shrimp life given up, given over
to our celebration. Deeper into that same night
I hear, through my open window, close,
someone else’s baby cry – such grief,
and nothing will ease it, not the breast
or rest or warmth or darkness or light;
nothing will ease it forever and ever
or for the long moment till all is well
and silent. We can’t help ourselves: who wouldn’t trade
their own child’s comfort for another’s harm,
another child’s harm? We can’t help ourselves, knowing
it’s wrong, knowing there would be a remedy
if we wanted it. Now someone has written a book
I won’t be reading, about how the Earth would do without us,
rewriting not the past (airbrushing Trotsky
out of the Stalin snaps), but the future; a projection
sans project-er. It’s getting hotter,
we’re starting to agree we’ve fucked it up.
The review says the author has visited fresh
ruins, a city abandoned only decades, and it’s easy
to foretell: bougainvillea purpling rooftops,
the small fingers of roots diligently rubbing out
difference. No inside; no out. To some
perhaps it’s comforting to think of the Earth
scratching at its ear (good dog!) and us no more
than fleas in its coat: a good scrub,
a sprinkling of powder and all
is well again. None mourning our self-
massacre, not the cherries gone wild,
the gleeful shrimp gaining, all
we consumed. He imagines furthermore
humpbacks releasing their arias without contest,
butterflies sculpting air. I don’t want to. Useless
though my own life has seemed to me
at times (despite cherries, despite friends), I want
this curious project to continue, our certain hunger,
our subtleties, our complicated contradictions. The arias
less necessary to me than the way a mouth is held,
the look in an eye, that engenders them. Though
my own evaluation of the human
is that, as the song goes, you can’t
have one without the other.
Previously published in All Souls’ Véhicule Press, 2012
Rhea Tregebov’s seventh collection of poetry, All Souls’, was published in 2012. Her poetry has received the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, The Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize, Honorable Mention for the National Magazine Awards, and the Readers’ Choice Award for Poetry from Prairie Schooner. Tregebov is also the author of two novels, Rue des Rosiers and The Knife-Sharpener’s Bell, as well as five children’s picture books. Having retired from her position in the Creative Writing Program at University of British Columbia teaching in June 2017, she is now an Associate Professor Emerita.
Watch Your Head is an online journal of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
New work is published monthly!
Check out our latest project: a print anthology published by Coach House Books!
Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis
Coach House Books
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