When we were twelve years old,
we were never told
that the Earth as we know it might no longer be home.
On hot summer days
we would play with the hose,
watch the water’s endless stream flow
Unaware that it wouldn’t go
Beach days after four o’clock the water would come up to our parents chairs
We move back a hair
Inching our way to the line of houses
The ocean’s water douses my legs
Giggling, I bend to pick up a sand dollar
My fingers brushing a plastic imposter
I toss it back like a skipping stone
My parents clap at how far it was thrown.
Salt water in hair, feet bare
Filling the bathtub without a stare
At the faucet as it runs,
my sister and I would run into the bathroom,
Patiently leaning over the edge
Checking the waters temperature with our thumb
the water doesn’t run out.
My twelve year old self only had one thing to fear:
I couldn’t go to bed without the spark
of my Tinkerbell night light
Glowing bright across my bedroom walls
as I would finally fall asleep,
keeping it on until morning
We never had a warning about
How one day, that light might go out.
The day after Thanksgiving
We would find Americans giving their houses the luminous glow
Of red, green and white lights strung from tree to tree,
My family would drive through neighborhoods to stop and see
The multi colored beams that gleam
it seemed like they would never go out.
It seemed like things would never change,
it’s strange how it’s turned out this way.
How many more days like these do we have?
We were never told
that with time,
The backyard hose would run dry.
We were never told
how our oceans would absorb plastic
so fast and we wouldn’t be able to swim in those waters anymore.
We were never told
That our flashlights won’t brighten the night
How coloring book pages have taken forests of trees
How our Capri suns are poisoning the seas
We were never told this is how it would be.
We emptied all these bottles
And cut down all these trees
Just to make money
But when the oxygen is gone
We’ll finally realize
We were focusing on the wrong kind of green
This whole time.
It’s like we were blind
Clouds of smog growing bigger,
Clouding our eyes
Now is the time
To wake up
And make change
Before it’s too late
The environment is suffocating,
What’s up with all the waiting?!
The time we have is dissipating.
Scientists are saying that we have twelve years before we reach the point of no return,
Until there’s really no going back.
In twelve years we need to cut carbon emissions in half,
What’s so hard about that?
Doesn’t it shock you that
When a baby born today is twelve years old
She won’t even know how her final years will be spent,
She never had the chance to prevent these wrongs
That have caused
The world as we knew it
To eventually be gone
Unless we act now.
And now we are sixteen and Trump “passed” the National Climate Assessment (dramatic pause)
On Thanksgiving weekend.
to how climate change
doesn’t deserve his investment.
For a business man
his investments seem to be in the wrong place.
Our leader is too busy trying to erase
The truth about our planet that’s going to waste
When our daughters are twelve years old
We want them to have clean water to drink
A backyard with animals that didn’t go extinct
An ocean to swim in
A clean world to live in
A world that can serve as a home our children
Our sisters, our brothers
we ALL need to show some respect for our mother....
Alyssa Keith is a junior at Newburyport High School in Newburyport, MA. She is a member of both her school’s Environmental Club and GOMI. Her passion about political, social and environmental issues plaguing society is what fuels her writing. She believes the environment’s intrinsic value cannot be aptly described by mere logical statements, so she engages in the introspective art of poetry to use raw emotion to convey her message.
Caroline Tiernan is a junior at Newburyport High School. She loves writing poems about current issues, such as climate change and the environment. Caroline is involved with the school’s Louder Than a Bomb team, where she competes in poetry slams. She is passionate about protecting the planet, and believes that every little bit helps!