Myra Dutton


Now children think they have five years to live.
Stacks of worry lines crease their young brows.
They say, “Bees are dying, glaciers are melting,
and islands have been swallowed by the sea.
Every day one hundred species become extinct.
Each day there is increasing war and greed.
We wake to hear––No more Swallowtails.
Butterflies are the first to go.
Our world will never be the same.
The revenge of Gaia is upon us.”
Their young shoulders sag as they walk
past the people they once believed in,
and the children know––No one has the answer.
It seems like two hundred years since I was a child,
trained to hide in case of nuclear attack––to hide
under my desk, under God, in bomb shelters, in basements,
my mouth covered with a hankie, a pan on my head.
All anyone needed was a year’s supply of Campbell’s Soup.
Chicken Noodle and Creamy Tomato would save the world.
It was a well-kept secret that no one had the answer.

It seems like two hundred years since I believed
that humanity was innately good, that it cared
for all countries, all peoples, all beings,
that it cared if waters were pure, the air unpolluted,
and the land lush, green, and toxin-free.
What can I possibly say to the young idealist,
undaunted, who demands integrity from everyone?
Am I to say that times have changed?
… that two hundred years have passed
since I believed in mankind.
Or can I say that I am learning to trust?
… that even from this chaos and disorder,
good will rise, that it always does,
given enough time.