Bellwether

(for Greta)

Greta Thunberg's options for crossing the Atlantic again — Quartz

Crossing lines whine in wind’s teeth,

rigging taut as harp strings divides the endless sky.

Boom as tumblehome hull breasts another wave,

smack and sizzle of icy spray.

Brine on sun-cracked lips,

legs forgetting what dry land feels like.

Sixty foot of fibre glass between you and

the twenty seven thousand feet to the ocean’s bottom

where tectonic plates perform

the long painful process of separation.

Aboard, a schoolgirl crosses this gulf

to convince the captains of nations

to take a diametric tack –

a deadly holmgang

with the highest of stakes.

because almost everything is black and white.

Black as the mainsail, white with its legend:

Unite Behind the Science.

Powered by eight minute old photons, by subaqueous turbines,

this zero carbon craft carries her,

The Wily One.

Over three thousand miles and fifteen days,

peeing in a bucket, and eating boil-in-a-bag meals,

privacy a luxury for this girl who had no friends,

and doesn’t like crowds.

Braving a callous ocean named after the god

who once held up the world.

But the time for bedtime stories is over.

For, babassu and murumuru explode with super-heated sap.

The Ribeirinhos weep as tribal lands succumb

to Bolsonaro’s scorched earth policy –

rubber trees, cacao, brazil nut groves, nurtured

for generations, by Neoliberalism’s fire-sale erased.

And the noble Quilimbolas, descendants of rebel slaves,

wear masks of solastalgia as their universe is torched,

to grow soybeans, mine ore, raise cattle.

Carbon. Methane. Cancer.

A lung of rainforest the size of Manhattan lost every day:

a Noah’s Ark of unknown species, life-saving poultices.

And the Arctic Circle is necklaced with wild fires.

and the Greenland ice sheet debouches

eleven billion tonnes in a single day.

And still there are those who ignore her

when she says: Our house is on fire.

The Calvary congregation pray at Jacksonville Beach Pier

to Hurricane Dorian, telling it to calm down,

but the climate is the corrupted portrait of our

unsalubrious lifestyles.

And the bellwether who heralds the bad news

is made a scapegoat by the hate merchants.


But despite the gyres of oil-lobby media,

the toxic backwash of anti-experts,

the side-winds of the climate deniers,


Still she makes landfall, carrying the virus of hope.

Listen to me read the poem and others, alongside great poetry by Marie-Claire Wood, TAK Erzinger, Kevan Manwaring and Sarra Culleno – from Alternative Stories and Fake Realities. https://www.buzzsprout.com/411730/8567031-poems-from-marie-claire-wood-tak-erzinger-kevan-manwaring-and-sarra-culleno?play=true

Copyright (c) Kevan Manwaring 2021

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