Letter to Edith

Parenthood is full of uncertainties; of hopes and fears. The climate crisis amplifies all of this, and brings into focus the harsh realities and stark choices we face – as individuals and as a society.

I wrote this poem to my daughter as she approached her third birthday, amidst a time of fear and a time of hope: fear about the future that she may grow up to witness; but hope that she may contribute to the building of a better world. It could just as easily have been written to any one of the school climate strikers, or those young people taking action with Extinction Rebellion, to whom I am thankful – for giving me hope amongst the fear. 

You could grow
to be ten metres tall
A powerful beast
treading the broken earth
scorning the broken peoples

You could grow
to the end of the world
to see the last ice
vanish into swollen seas
lands engulfed
rocks on mountain heights revealed
that last saw sun millennia ago

You could live
to be a hundred years old
happy
healthy
family
friends
community
Bringing joy and peace
and solidarity
to earth and its beings
whatever state it’s in

You could watch
as people starve
as crisis upon crisis
and the dictatorship of the rich
force the poor into the dry hot dead dirt

You could be rich
you could not give a shit
you could scrap your way to the top of the heap
and be rich
in wealth
if not in spirit

You could die
with nitrous lungs
and creaking breaths
These crazy little boxes of metal and fumes
that we all have
one each
to go anywhere
everywhere
whenever we want
stunting the lives of our little ones
driving a heatwave death spiral
is that what we want?

You could think
this is nuts
insane
unthinkable
cruel
it’s against our very nature
it’s a crime against humanity

But you could live with it
if you were comfortable
in your own little world
fed
watered
clothed
just keep it out of mind
just walk on by
feel a little something maybe
get on with life
but deep down you’d know
something’s wrong

You could rebel
You could resist
You could see
a better way to exist
You could help build it
with comrades
with struggle
with a fire in your heart
with a seed in your head
with a faith born from fighting
for roses
for bread
for the right to decide for ourselves how we live
for the right to a future
for air we can breathe

You could live
to see the fall
of patriarchy
of division by race
of suspicion of the other
of a society built on exploitation
You could help bring about the fall

You could stand
steadfast and strong
against injustice

You could hold up
your beliefs for all to see
ask friends for guidance
give help where it’s needed

You could rally your siblings and comrades
to a cause that is true

You could bring hope
to a broken world

Or you could not
It’s up to you

 

The next youth climate strike is on Friday 24 May 2019. See the international and UK websites and the facebook page.

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