January, 2001

On climate grief and fading hope.

Art by Maxim Adams.

This month I am twenty,
which means that twenty times
I have watched the flowers bloom 
on my father’s magnolia tree, 
twenty times
I have weathered this miracle 
and wondered how many might be left. 

When others were younger
the world could have saved itself. 
When others were younger
the future must have seemed an endless garden: 
beating of wings, babbling water, 
a wide, kind, shimmering place. 

Still, I wasn’t promised nothing. 
I was promised freedom – 
weren’t you? I was promised life, 
was given language, was shown the poem 
and pointed to beauty and told 
both could achieve so much. 

It’s difficult, now, to imagine this. 
The poem feels mute 
in a world that winces at a mention of itself, 
beauty impossible in a century 
that has its eyes sealed shut. 

In late Winter the magnolias glisten, 
they hold the light like something they love, 
and I think, I am twenty. 
For much longer will I have 
a name for hope?  
Wasn’t I once trusting,
Wasn’t I once tender, 
Wasn’t I once promised so much more than this. 

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