Rachel Hawkins-Crockford

Lament

 

this is where we end

on any given day in March

everything else wiped

from the headlines

 

begin the lament

for the end of the world

make a list of all the things

you might have loved and lost

 

Orca swimming in Auckland harbour

Fluorescent reefs off Amidee Island

Blue Maumau running like

liquid silver on top of the sea

Otter in a river in Northumbria

the twelve hundred year old Spanish chestnut

 

listen

do you hear her leaves whisper?

 

fuel the wind

that fans the angry fire

let the thought take hold in you

of all these lives

go where it takes you

 

the lament becomes

boiling magma

fury pain powerlessness

fire in the depths of your belly

 

lie down there on that scorched ground

become a line in the rock

invisible to the eye

 

after

when all is dark and still

when your children wake in fear at night

get up and dry your tears

before they become the ocean

 

get up and tend to them

wrap them in safe arms

offer courage beside their bed

 

begin again

Commentary

This poem arose as a response to the lockdown at the end of March and the way in which Covid knocked everything else out of the media spotlight, particularly climate change and ecosystem collapse. These things that had preoccupied my little household over the last year or two when we went on various marches and school strikes. Suddenly, it was Covid, Covid, Covid all the time and nothing else in the media anymore. It sometimes felt as if the world we knew had ended and maybe there was a sense in me that this was a good thing. That things as they had been needed to change.

That was a time that felt both frightening and hopeful. It was some months later that I submitted the poem for workshopping and I’ve amended it according to some helpful thoughts I received on it. I’m conscious of how different it feels to amend and read it now, after months of getting up each day in the face of a global pandemic, holding out hope in the face of the unknown, finding things to be grateful for and going to bed at night only to do it all again tomorrow. Less of the fire and magma that was there at the start, more of the daily grind of living through such enormous disruption and hoping all one loves will be safe and well at the end of it.

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