Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The World's Widows"

This poem was inspired by prompts from minor_architect and ellenmillion. It was sponsored by minor_architect. It deals with the issue of environmental migrants.

The World’s Widows

How do you say farewell
to the land where you lived,
the land that you loved?

How do you say farewell
to a land that has died and
left you alone in a mob of millions
all desperate to escape the desolation?

There is no word for widows such as we.
Can you kiss the dried lips of the Earth?
Can the empty arms of the river embrace you?
There is no beloved body to bury here.
There is not even a coffin,
for the trees, too, are gone.

All that is left is the packing.
Pick up the pieces of your life
and stuff them into a suitcase
or a wheelbarrow or a backpack.
Take what little food remains
and the dust-gray rags of your garments.
Take, perhaps, one pebble
to remind you of the homeland
that died and left you bereft.

Then take the stick-thin hands of your children
and walk away from it all.
Walk away from everything you have ever known,
walk until your feet hurt as much as your heart,
and walk until you are so tired that not even
nightmares can keep you from sleep
when you all fall down.
Walk and hope that when you get to the city
someone will take you in,
not turn you back into the barrens to die.
Pray that you find someone who will see you,
footsore, heartsore,
and see that there but for the grace of Nature go they.

The weather has run mad.
The wind screams like a woman scorned,
slapping cheeks and pulling hair.
The rain beats the dirt like a drunken man
and then disappears for months.
The hail comes like the hard heels of bad children
who run through the fields mashing the little plants.

Everything is changing and nobody knows
how to stop it. Everyone is moving
in search of someplace safe, but
noplace is really safe anymore. Run from
one to another, catch your breath then
run again. Spit truth in the
faces of the hardhearted:

“Today it is me. Tomorrow it could be you.”

There are enough tomorrows
to turn us all into the world’s widows.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, environment, fishbowl, nature, poem, poetry, reading, writing

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