Activists Will Falk and Max Wilbert are defending Thacker Pass from a massive new lithium mine slated to destroy the wild and beautiful lands in northern Nevada’s Great Basin. They are camped there to protect the land and all the beings who call that land home, and to raise awareness about the destruction wrought by lithium mining. The mine planned for this area will provide lithium primarily for electric vehicle batteries.
Will Falk is a biophilic writer and poet. Max Wilbert is an organizer, writer, and photographer. Here are two poems Will wrote about his time at Thacker Pass, and some incredible photos by Max to go with them.
If you are so moved, please check out ProtectThackerPass.org to learn more about the mine and how you can help.
Thacker Pass speaks. And, poetry is one way I listen. Here are two poems that I think move well together: Great Basin Ways & Great Basin Daze. I hope you enjoy. — Will Falk
Great Basin Ways
The Great Basin has her ways
of ripping the tissue off scars
that hem you in like barbed wire
cattle fences on public land.
She reaches from the sky
with fists formed of snow and ice.
She scrubs you raw
against ranges of exfoliating sage
and leaves you naked on mountain tops
to be purified by the night.
Then, she cuts you open
with sharp winds, a sickle moon,
and stars stabbing down,
to let your infections drain with the dust
through rabbit brush, rat caches,
and down a mouse hole.
She calls her coyote children
to catch your scent.
They yip and yap
and cackle with glee at the witchcraft
she works in your transformation.
Their paws dig you up,
their teeth pull you out,
and their rough red tongues
lick you clean
until you fall, face first,
covered in canid spit
into the frost and cow shit
fully yourself again.
Great Basin Daze
The clear days are the worst
and, here, every day is clear.
Skies, blue with utter boredom,
let the sun pour down at cask strength
and the hours move so slowly
they must be drunk.
The wind finally stumbles in
followed by the first flicker
of wildfire sparks scorching senses of smell.
A pinyon jay sneezes
where she huddles in the half-shade
dried-up sage struggles to maintain.
The scent reminds her of the days
when rabbit brush bursts into flames
signaling the ripeness of pine nuts.
A Chilean shepherd leans
against a camper trailer,
spooning something syrupy
from an aluminum can,
while pondering a reflection
of the Andes
in Nevada’s Snake Range.
No one but a pronghorn,
haunted by ancestral memories
of rifle cracks and echoing bullets,
notices the pioneer ghosts
who pick through cattle bones
for beef that rotted decades ago.