I am age 4
I play in the warm summer rain
And dance around the worms awakening from their slumber
The downpour drenches my curls
making them juicier than the fruit on the peach tree.
I am age 7
My father takes me to the Bronx Zoo to see the cheetahs
Overjoyed; I step a bit too close and shouts explode in the distance
He pulls me away,
but the smile plastered on my face lasts for weeks.
I am age 11
My mother takes my sister and me to the safari
I’m most excited to see the elephants
They stand tall and strong
She says if I work hard enough, so will I.
I am age 18
Admission decisions are only viewable online
So I print out copies for my memory box
A relic from my past life;
Perhaps I’ll show my kids someday.
I am age 22
The rings from the six-pack of beer I
chugged at the tailgate float to
a new land to begin a new life.
A polaroid hangs in its place.
I am age 30
I only want feathers of the
California Condor at my wedding
It will cost thousands
But I deserve it; this is my reward.
I am age 37
My daughter read about the cheetahs in school today
So I take her to the Bronx Zoo
Inside there are empty cages
Holographics of the animals that once were.
I am age 45
My daughter ran outside to play in the rain
But it is no longer safe
She is confused
So am I.
I am age 50
My necklace of ivory shines in the moonlight
I haven’t seen an elephant since age eleven
But my blanket made of fur keeps me
warm at night when guilt runs rampant in my mind.
My generation is the last to experience the world before climate change became an impending threat, and one of the first to collectively want to make a change. Our future is on the line and if we don’t act now, we won’t have one. Elephants are on the endangered list, along with the California Condor. The cheetahs are considered “vulnerable,” however the harsh reality is that they could easily become endangered as well. We have the power to change what our earth will look like in a few years right now.
This past semester, I took a creative writing class. Prior to taking this class, all of my poetry was based on mental illness; more specifically depression. When I tried to write poems about other things, I was never satisfied with the result. By taking the class, I was able to learn more about form poetry, and how to add variety to my work. In February, I stumbled upon the poem “Home” by Warsan Shire. This poem expressed the pain and suffering that an immigrant goes through in the United States. After reading this, I was completely moved. I then became fascinated with the idea of something I like to call “poetry with a purpose.”
Poetry is not only beautiful, but it’s powerful. And I wrote this poem to hopes of striking a nerve for many. The time to act on climate change is now; not tomorrow, or in a week or even a day. The longer we wait to make a change, the more complacent we will become. Complacency has caused far too many animals to end up on the endangered species list, far too much plastic to enter the ocean, and far too much pollution to spread in what used to be our beautiful, clean air. I believe my generation, along with the ones above and below it, are far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. If we all band together, we can make a monumental impact in the fight against climate change.