When the Earth First Moved Under Our Feet

 By Riley Erlandson

Yes, there was a time it stood still — us planted to the ground, imagining ourselves firm-rooted as trees; or striding, arrogant, any direction we pleased. But steps became slippery, their trajectory less clear. Gaining speed, we lost our grip.

Our bodies and everything we’d built skidded on the soil in the way we only used to do on ice. Cities slid into the sea. Some scrabbled helplessly on a glassy shore that would not take them back, and few swam for long. We floundered on the 8-ball spinning beneath us until a few — blessed — collided with roots.

Unmoving, the trees and bushes still embraced the ground on which we’d so suddenly lost our purchase, our control. We clung. We climbed. We grasped our neighbors as they slid by. We salvaged what we could of our (now bizarre) buildings and belongings, sailing past. Together, we pushed away the great clumps of detritus that threatened to level our haven of forest until all else had sunk into the ocean’s depths with our unmoored siblings.

We learned, then, what you now know: that the trees that breathe into our lungs are our only sanctuary, these saviors that sheltered and fed us when the ground itself cast us away.

Riley Erlandson is a Master of Divinity student who is passionate about the environment, storytelling, and creating compassionate community. She also loves chai tea, her dog Tucker, writing in her bullet journal, and, of course, reading. Riley can be found on Twitter at @rileyerlandson and Instagram @literaryriley.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Direct digital pen, ink, and pastel)

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