For good or ill, we made this place. Maybe we made it angry, maybe we made it sick, but we made this planet the way it is, including our little near-square box of it here in New Mexico. We own the Anthropocene. Maybe that realization is slowly starting to dawn in our collective conciseness. Maybe that is why there seems to be a surge of artwork recently devoted to the topic.
Where we find Refugia is squarely in New Mexico, somewhere between where we started changing the climate and where we end up after it has been changed. To say that Refugia is about climate change is to miss the intricacies and interstitial spaces that Bello creates through her poems that happen to exist during a changing climate. She carves out a place to wait out lighting bursts above the tree line, looking down on what we have created and searching for the next stepping stone to the future for herself and her family. Everyone else can join in, if they like. Her poems describes the problem of a rapidly changing climate in terms that are both cold and dulcet, like she is looking up from her morning coffee at the kitchen table to see a horrible car crash out the window and then without raising her voice, beckons the others in the house to come see the accident without getting up from her chair.
As if to prove the point that passivity still reigns in our distracted world, Bello ends the poem Dear Future Child with:
“I drive to the market for more flowers
wishing that driving were already banned
and remembering that at night when we sing,
the moment our voices separate is the moment they
Bello’s debut work is not the excitable alarm we often find in works about climate change, but rather a beautiful reflection of the calm and matter-of-fact persistence of people who have already endured plenty over the centuries from the climate in New Mexico. Refugia is a meditation on the facts as Bello sees them, waiting out the Anthropocene with a warm cup of tea.