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Love Letter to the Eve of the End of the World

Elsewhere, a new history / Of touch, not pitted against the land.

This piece is part of the Climate notebook, which features art by Katrina Bello.

Every generation has once considered themselves survivors 
At the end of a world. Doomsday clock. Nuclear count
-down. & the walls came tumbling. Unveiling of singe & gas
Chamber. Trench warfare. History, the body we slice through 
& never something to live in, to survive. How many times 
Have we assumed ourselves writing from Apocalypse & not 
Towards it? Modernity is a failed project, I type into the silicon
Expanse of my galaxy. If it would mean a return to a world 
Where we bury our dead whole, where light was not rewritten 
Into a night sky’s apology, where land was returned to only 
Land, like high-water returned to merely ocean, then, I beg,
Let us fall with the unquiet dead slaughtered by our own gas
-light: the flora wilting over the gazelle’s footprints, trailing 
To the edge of a cliff. Extinction where once was whole air. 
Do not mistake this for despair: the only way I can love 
The whole of us is to stare into the center of our unmaking
& learn to love the worlds made possible in our own fall. 
We can bend countries, like branches, until they break. Or
Sever, instead, the roots of the ever-knowing tree—the need 
For an ecosystem to call Eden. Elsewhere, a new history 
Of touch, not pitted against the land. Elsewhere, our teeth 
Sinking into the soft flesh of a fruit, without mourning.

Reflective note on how this poem engages with the theme of climate:

This poem takes up Min Hyoung Song’s call in Climate Lyricism [an impetus for The Margins’ Climate notebook] on sustaining attention to climate change, alongside ongoing reflection on the question: what worlds need to die so that my people can live? I first attempted articulating my thoughts in an essay with Guernica a year ago, considering the cyclic apocalypses unleashed on Palestine by the western world out of their own fear of apocalypse (translation: the desire for immortality). What is poetry’s capacity to unplug our language from these matrices of power and the normative language of modernity? What kinds of shared agency, to borrow Song’s framing, are even possible to imagine in a lyric space if our poems speak only into the void that is the settler colonial imagination—a void which has, especially lately, seemed inescapable? Is genuinely sustained and sustainable attention on climate change, and shared agency to work against climate change, possible without the dismantling of the western colonial world order? 

We live in a world perpetually anxious of its own fall—anxious to the point of slaughtering uncountable numbers of people both abroad and domestically. Is it possible, suspended within this eve of apocalypse, to imagine new collectives, new central loci of community, in the world’s fall? What if apocalypse, instead of an abstract fear with an entire mythology of images implanted into us from the colonial imagination’s subconscious, was the gentlest, most sustainably survivable way forward? What new imaginations of life are possible therein? Instead of a shadow cast by a forbidden apple hanging from the tree of our knowing, what if apocalypse was, instead, a new kind of beginning?