Dear Matafele Peinam: UN Climate Summit Poem | Foreign Correspondent


Dear Matafele Peinam,
You are a seven-month-old sunrise of gummy smiles, you are bald as an egg and bald as the Buddha, you are thighs that are thunder, shrieks that are lightning, so excited for bananas, hugs and
our morning walks along the lagoon. Dear Matafele Peinam,
I want to tell you about that lagoon. That lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against
the sunrise. Men say that one day
that lagoon will devour you. They say it will gnaw at the shoreline,
chew at the roots of your breadfruit trees, gulp down rows of seawalls,
and crunch through your island’s shattered bones. They say you, your daughter
and your granddaughter, too, will wander rootless
with only a passport to call home. Dear Matafele Peinam,
Don’t cry. Mummy promises you
no-one will come and devour you. No greedy whale of a company sharking through political seas, no backwater bullying of businesses with broken promises, no blindfolded bureaucracy gonna push this
mother ocean over the edge. No-one’s drowning, baby,
no-one’s moving. No-one’s losing their homeland. No-one’s gonna become a climate change refugee. Or should I say “no-one else”. To the Carteret Islanders of Papua New Guinea
and to the Taro Islanders of the Solomon Islands, I take this moment to apologise to you. We are drawing the line here. Because we baby, we’re going to fight. Your mummy, daddy, bubu, jimma,
your country and your president, too. We will all fight. And even though there are those hidden behind
platinum titles, who like to pretend that we don’t exist.
Who like to pretend that the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Maldives,
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the floods of Algeria, Colombia, Pakistan, and all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and tidal waves didn’t exist? Still there are those who see us. Hands reaching out, fists raising up,
banners unfurling, megaphones booming, and we are canoes blocking coal ships. We are the radiance of solar villages. We are the fresh clean soil of the farmers
past. We are petitions blooming from teenage fingertips. We are families biking, recycling, reusing,
engineers dreaming, designing, building, artists painting, dancing, writing
and we are spreading the word. And there are thousands out on the street
marching hand in hand, chanting for change now. And they’re marching for you, baby,
they’re marching for us. Because we deserve to do more than just survive. We deserve to thrive. Dear Matafele Peinam,
You are eyes heavy with drowsy weight, so just close those eyes, and sleep
in peace. Because we won’t let you down. You’ll see.

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