POEM: Climate fate

June 3, 2016

I was sitting in the waiting room when you flashed across the screen
A heatwave smothered India and you were on the scene.
As you tried to cross the street, your shoe stuck to the road
So you ran on scorched bare feet, as the black tar slowly flowed.
Where there once were straight white lines, a crazy pattern morphed and swirled,
As if a giant with a paintbrush splashed out and dwarfed the world.
You long for cooling rain, but the monsoon will be late.
And this is how some people face their climate fate.

You're a woman of Maharashtra; farm life is what you know.
With the earth so cracked and bare, nothing green can grow.
As the debt piles up for the chemicals and seed,
As you wonder how to fill the many mouths you have to feed,
As you turn to your husband to say somehow you will cope,
You see in his eyes there's no more room for hope.
Your nightmare just gets worse, the day you lose your mate.
And this is how some people face their climate fate.

You've lived in Karachi all of your life,
There with your kids, your parents, your wife.
Last year the heatwave rolled in and swept a thousand lives away,
Overwhelmed the morgue, corpses left out to decay.
This time you swear you will be ready and not have to face that smell
Of those left to rot in the very place they fell.
So you dig out mass graves and pray for rain while you wait.
And this is how some people face their climate fate.

When Sandy struck New York, you'd left for somewhere calm.
Flew back when it was over, once you knew you'd meet no harm.
Another super-storm to hit won't be so inconvenient,
Even if next time, Mother Nature is less lenient,
For you've bought yourself a condo with rooms sealed water-tight,
Floodgates, pumps, power and emergency light.
So you gamble on oil stocks, knowing you'll be all right mate.
And this is how some people face their climate fate.

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