I came across this poem last year on the On Being podcast. Written by the Pakistani climate activist Ayisha Siddiqa1, it is set against the backdrop of our current environmental crises. I find the poem holds a powerful message of the power of approaching the current crises motivated by love. There is much that has to change and policies that need to be turned around, and with that many reasons to sit in rage, but what is the future that we want and how are we approaching it, how are we building it?
ON ANOTHER PANEL ABOUT CLIMATE, THEY ASK ME TO SELL THE FUTURE AND ALL I’VE GOT IS A LOVE POEM
What if the future is soft and revolution is so kind that there is no end to us in sight.
Whole cities breathe and bad luck is bested by a promise to the leaves.
To withstand your own end is difficult.
The future frolics about, promised to no one, as is her right.
Rage against injustice makes the voice grow harsher yet.
If the future leaves without us, the silence that will follow will be an unspeakable nothing.
What if we convince her to stay?
How rare and beautiful it is that we exist.
What if we stun existence one more time?
When I wake up, get out of bed, my seven year old cousin
with her ruptured belly tags along.
Then follows my grandmother, aunts, my other cousins
and the violent shape of their drinking water.
The earth remembers everything,
our bodies are the color of the earth and we
Been born from so many apocalypses, what’s one more?
Love is still the only revenge. It grows each time the earth is set on fire.
But for what it’s worth, I’d do this again.
Gamble on humanity one hundred times over
Commit to life unto life, as the trees fall and take us with them.
I’d follow love into extinction.
Ayisha Siddiqa is a Pakistani Climate justice advocate living in Coney Island, NY, a coastal area highly prone to hurricanes and floods. She is a co-founder of Polluters Out and the Executive Director of Student Affairs at FFU. On Sept 20th, 2019 she helped mobilize and lead over 300,000 students onto the streets of Manhattan demanding their governments take climate action. ↩︎