The Heat Is Online

Requiem for All the Children

Requiem for All the Children

They will be hungry,
they will be thirsty,
they will be barren,
they will be brutal,
they will break down.

They will be paralyzed by the
perpetual combat that surrounds them
or they will be shrewd as reptiles
like the scavenging child-soldiers
they will have become.

They will be cynical
-- remembering the promises of their parents.
They will not want children of their own.
They will not believe in higher things;
the natural world will have become their enemy.

The best among them will want to know
how this happened to them.
We will tell them how
the truth was buried
under millions and millions
of sedimentary lies
that turned a republic of promise
into a tar pit.

We will tell them how reporters
-- blood pulsing to the challenge
of unearthing truth --
were overcome by cowardice
and could not tell it.

We will tell them how loveable the little pika was,
with its bobbed ears and glistening nose,
its funny little butt with barely a tail.
Tell them they will not see one again.

We will tell them of the elegance of
the white bears, gliding in silent gallop
until the ice broke and they floundered
and hungered and withered to death.
Tell them they will not see one again.

We will tell them how their mothers
who gave them milk
and their fathers
who gave them dreams
have wasted their time.

We will tell them about
the science of the lambs
who saw this coming --
acid vapors pervading the air,
bewildered species exiled into homelessness,
currents of ocean gone hideously astray --
but not in all its monstrous breadth.

Tell them that as their realization dawns
they will leave behind the
dreams of gleaming cities
that once glowed in
the inspirations of builders.
And remind them, as a poet told us far too long ago,
"there will remain of these cities
but the wind that blew through them."

Nurses and prophets,
these children should have been,
healers and peacemakers.
They will not heal any more.
Their mouths will fill with the desiccating salt
of their own disillusionment,
their hopes gone rancid
in the gathering heat.

                                            --Ross Gelbspan (c)