Polar Bears Will Not Become Extinct
by Sandi Stromberg

We’re awash in oceans of controversy
where hypotheses tread water
and myths splash about.

The climate is changing.
Or maybe not. Nothing absolute
can be proven anymore

than phrenologists could predict
character and mental capacity
from a person’s skull. We measure

ice, take the earth’s temperature,
while computers juggle millions of
snippets of data. Answers

still not solid. Who can tell fact
from fiction? When I read a novel, I’m swept
through real tears, palpable joy and fear.

The characters travel with me,
accompany me to bed, where I lie wondering
what’s happening to them now. And,

if the planet is going to burn up,
or a new ice age descend—
like my seventh-grade teacher taught

in geography—would these protagonists
also move toward the sixth extinction,
the one my husband, who studies fossils,

believes in? Should I be
hunkering in place instead of buying
my ticket to Singapore

and debating between Hong Kong
and Indonesia this trip?
Amidst such quandaries,

a contentious geoscientist guarantees
polar bears will survive the melting poles
as they survived the Medieval Warm Period.

For now, it’s too early to analyze
the South’s cold front in May
and the need for air conditioning

at Christmas. Or to know if some writer
might give Catherine
and Heathcliff another chance.

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