Refugee

Lost among the layers of words, my needs slip through the cracks that keep opening into assaults on the ways that have always belonged to me.  I don’t want to be reoriented towards a future I can’t imagine, or pushed through a portal into a world I don’t understand.  A world that does not recognize me and has no relationship to the one that has always sheltered me from unwelcome change.

All those strident sentences you spit out—they mock my choices, erasing any value in what I call a good life.  The scale on which you judge me makes my wishes weigh nothing.  You discard everything that makes me happy.

The tasks of survival are not so easily sorted into black and white, good and evil.  What seems to work for the time being is all we can attain sometimes, worth more than the promises of a future that we can’t see.

It’s impossible to know God’s plans or to understand them—despite your fancy degrees and charts, there are realms beyond the facts, beyond what you call science, that we can’t anticipate or control.

Instead you put yourself above me.  But you appear in my mirror as one-dimensional, rejecting me and the grieving that belongs to me, the losses I have experienced and feel.  You insist they are worthless, I am worthless.  But what do you offer to me that will replace them?

You list all my beliefs and shame them, shame me, shame my culture, my family, my friends.  And you call it compassion.

I am not asking for your false understanding.  I do not want what you want, what you think I need.

I want to be worth something.  I want to matter to someone, something.  I want a world that holds out a hand and tells me I belong.  Where has it gone?

look at me
listen to my life
make me real

Jim Feeney at Earthweal gave us quite a challenge this week: to write a poem from the point of view of someone who is a climate change denier or a climate solution denier or someone who just doesn’t care because they won’t be around when it happens. It’s not easy to put yourself sympathetically in someone else’s shoes. I chose to repeat some of the words and ideas I heard in interviews with Trump supporters, figuring no environmentalist would ever vote for Trump. I have to admit I resent the fact that the media always tells us we need to try to “understand” people who support Trump, and yet Trump supporters never have to return the favor and try to understand those of us who don’t. We are not all wealthy Ivy League educated “elites”.

And the thing is…in the end our desires are not so different. I don’t reject science and I would not talk of God, but I have spiritual beliefs too that involve feelings and ideas that can’t really be quantified. I also often feel unacknowledged, dismissed, invisible. I have lost parts of my life that will never return and cannot be replaced. We all want to matter, to belong somewhere.

Why can’t we make that somewhere a place of mutual respect that honors our interdependence with the natural world? So we have a world where everyone’s children and grandchildren have a fighting chance at survival?