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Hope to stay 'wide awake' to climate crisis

The following poem was inspired by 17-year old Peregrine Hoskins' moving speech at the Nelson climate vigil in December.

Today at a Climate Vigil

Today at a climate vigil

a teenager melted my heart,

then broke it.

I watched them

calmly and achingly

place their life dreams on a funeral pyre.

Not wanting, but needing to

let go of imagined futures

of making plans

of having mindless fun

in order to help to save our world.

I was shattered by their bravery,

upended by the grief I felt

over their loss.

I didn’t see this coming,

the unsentimental sacrifice

its tender sorrow

my own shame.

We talk of fixing this crisis

for the sake of next generations.

But here they were,

speaking from their turned-upside-down life,

not about a possible and distant loss.

But sadly, modestly

revealing what they

had already forfeited.

Another dispiriting truth:

it’s our choices

our assumed plans

that have helped cast their grievous choice.

We have lit the fire

and fanned the flames

that consume their affecting benefaction

Today at a vigil,

a teenager broke my heart,

then made it stronger.

I expect not to sleep well tonight,

but hope to stay wide awake tomorrow.

-by George Chandler

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