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  • Route 7 Review

Nancy Woo—Digital Native

We were introduced to ourselves as

numbers on the playground.

Mine was always near the end,

X, Y, Z. Doesn’t matter if your friends

are in the ABCs. Then,

standardized testing.

Social Security number. Driver’s license.

License plate. Insurance ID.

We were introduced to ourselves as

who had what, whose parents

bought them video games, who has seen

the latest movies. I was still always last.

My Friday nights were spent reading

or talking to a friend—

at the birth of instant messaging.

We were introduced to ourselves as

avatars, profile pictures, emojis.

The future started running faster—

and faster— zeroes and ones,

backslashes and brackets. I built my first

website at age 12, a fan site for horses.

Finally, a smartphone in college.

Facebook arrived at our fingertips.

I was chatting online with my friends

and my secret soul lovers late at night,

downloading music on Limewire

and trying not to crash my mom’s computer

with a virus.

We were introduced to ourselves as

technology rose like a wave

crashing on digital doors everywhere.

Now, we Zoom around the world

with each other on mute. We connect

with any other light point anywhere

in the world—

We introduce ourselves as

stewards of this plane,

breathing rhythms becoming

the bridge between ecosystems

and insanity. I’m practicing

seeing the world

through the plant’s eyes—

bubble of oxygen uniting all of us.

The water cycle. The soil. The delicate

balance of wolves to deer.

Mother trees. Pollinators.

We were introduced to ourselves as

polluters, our takeout dinner

container and plastic bags escaped

to the ocean. We began to understand

we, too, are the whales

and the fish and the turtles,

and they are dying,

suffocating on garbage.

We were introduced to ourselves as

part of a global dying—

a clear cutting and monocropping

nightmare state. A rapid decline

in living creatures.

And still, we introduce ourselves as

front yard growers, urban

strategists, bold artists, solarpunk futurists,

everyday geniuses— glowing

with passion and urgency, breaking through

the rain again and again, the sun

getting hotter and hotter, and all of us

gifted under it with a role to play, cheer

of possibility in our throats.

Nancy Woo

Nancy Lynée Woo is a poet, eco-organizer, and imagination enthusiast who harbors a wild love for the natural world. Nancy has received fellowships from California Creative Corps, Artists at Work, PEN America, Arts Council for Long Beach, and others. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University and is the author of I’d Rather Be Lightning (Gasher, 2023).


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