20 September 2019

Skolstrejk för klimatet, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

—for Greta Thunberg

Men are turning their weapons in
to the government at the town square,
one by one by one by one, then
they turn around and leave them there;

the Senate is having a debate
on whether or not there’s heat in the air
today more than there was yesterday,
because it has snowed and they made
snowballs to throw at the world;

everywhere children are pining
for cognizance, even as crops
make a last effort to open
their palms, to seize the sun again.

Women breastfeed in the park
and talk about the meaning of milk
from powder, about why nature
has warned them to feed children.

At the corner of Fifth and Madison
I kill my cigarette, look for a bin.
My lungs howl with the sound
of drying flesh. Under the pavement

of my street earth waits for release.
I drop the butt into a rubbish bin.
I’ve always been that girl in the back
who doesn’t say anything.

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