I hadn’t run into much climate culture news this week, and, as I scrolled Twitter, the strangest thing happened. Twitter took a break from serving up horrifying videos from January 6th and actually presented me with something beautiful. A poem by Ayisha Siddiqa.
I’ve been getting into poetry recently. My brother has been memorizing prayers and meditation passages. To me, poems felt similar — something small, memorable, and grounding. I am not religious, but having grown up going to church, I was finding myself missing that guidance amidst the craziness and confusion of our present. While I’d been reading Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver, the best climate poem I’ve come across is “ON ANOTHER PANEL ABOUT CLIMATE, THEY ASK ME TO SELL THE FUTURE AND ALL I’VE GOT IS A LOVE POEM” by Ayisha Siddiqa. Never say Twitter hasn’t done anything good.
While the poem more than stands on it’s own, I think it worth noting that Ayisha is a real organizer. Born in Pakistan, she knows the effects of both the climate crisis and the deadly wars that keep fossil fuels flowing. She co-founded the climate projects Polluters Out and Fossil Free University, was a key organizer of the massive 2019 climate march in New York City, and has been a relentless in her pursuit for justice. It is no coincidence that someone who has felt the climate crisis so deeply, and been so instrumental in fighting it, would also be the one to write the best poetry for our moment.
I hope you to read and listen to the poem (read by the amazing Ayana Elizabeth Johnson) in full. It is special, because it does not shy away from the immediate violence of the climate crisis. Despite it all, though, Ayisha writes,
“But for what it’s worth, I’d do this again.
Gamble on humanity one hundred times over
Commit to life unto life, as the trees fall and take us with them.
I’d follow love into extinction.”
This is a profound poem of deeply personal loss, and truly universal hope.
I have noticed that across songs, movies, poems, and even my personal conversations, there is a growing awareness that our world is already changing beyond recognition. It is heartbreaking and terrifying. And yet — more stays the same than we’d expect… namely the things, like love, that define the human experience. As things change, let us ground ourselves in the hope of all that will never waver.