Elizabeth Rush reflects on climate change as a transformational force on our landscapes and the words we might use to grasp this shifting reality. Her book Rising was named a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for its rigorous reporting on America’s vulnerability to rising seas. This essay is an account of the days she spent driving through the Pacific Northwest while on a tour for the book—a time of wildfires, loss, and possible futures.
So it was in summer again the loved ones went out to
the sea at a quarter to dusk
The part of them that could do nothing did nothing
& the light of them walked along
—Brenda Hillman, from “Poem for a National Seashore”