On floods, and rising sea levels: “The Creep”.

I wrote this poem a while back about floods, climate change and rising sea levels, and thought I’d share it now, as it seems relevant.  If you find it of interest, please share.


The creep.  I spent a sleepless eve

Beneath creased bedsheets, and I breathed

An anxious breeze, a worried wind:

I panted – my thoughts, hurried – things

Were inching closer, so it seemed:

The moon glinted; it had once beamed

Benignly at me; sign of what

I did not know; I closed window

Despite the night-time’s stifling heat,

Hiding from moon: just like a fleet

Of clouds might hide the sun from us,

My curtains hid me from the dusk

And thus I lay in darkness –

In room humid as closed casket:

But, in here, I felt no safer;

My room’s walls were thin as wafers,

And, through them, I heard in distance

Some small sound, growing, insistent

With each piston of my heartbeat,

Creeping towards me, my parched sheets;

I had heard this creep for weeks, for months –

At work, I’d talked about it once

But all I received was colleagues’

Jibes that I needed a life:

That didn’t stop me hearing it

Or fearing it.  And here it came:

Tapping my eardrums like first rain-

Drops on a nervous pane of glass

That knows the storm’s approaching fast…

I could not just wait there for it

Nor could I ignore it; so I,

Throwing on my overcoat,

Went to front door, opened it, closed

It behind me hard, with a slam

To drown that sound, and then I ran

Up to the broken traffic lights

Which lit the crossroads; flashing bright

Green, amber, red in rapid strobe,

They winked at cars, who never slowed

Down to return these urgent flirts;

And as I stood there, with the church

Across from me and the vibrant

Neon sign of some off-licence,

I heard something – no, that’s a lie:

You won’t believe me, but I’ll try

To tell you what I heard: my mind

Had amplified, well, every sound

Across the world.  In every town,

Be it Lisbon, Brisbane, Beirut,

I heard each noise: I could hear troops

Marching in the Congo, groups

Of French teens smoking bongs, those suits

In Swiss board meetings, with their knives

Sharpened, to backs to be applied…

Why did my ears offer me

This cacophony, that deafened

Me like blast from weapon?

I heard private sorrows, sobs, tears –

It was like I’d borrowed God’s ears…

Wait – there was more that I could hear:

I heard atoms in Korea

Splitting savagely in some test

To create some man-made sunsets;

Somewhere, polar bears were drowning;

Urban roads were overcrowding –

Whether on weekdays, or Sabbaths –

With hordes of metallic mammoths;

I heard jet planes farting carbon,

Arson’s roar in forest fires,

Heard the laughs of arms suppliers

As they sold death without bias

To either side of a conflict;

Heard the anguish of a conscript

In some war-torn Middle Eastern

State, who’d just killed without reason…

But, in midst of all this din,

I heard that sound, tiny, yet grim –

The creep of each tide up each shore

Higher than it had crept before –

Each creep up each beach was either

Just one or two millimetres;

Whilst we engaged in wars of words

Or worse, this creep went unobserved:

What was causing it?  I focused

My ears, so that I could know this –

Fixed my hearing on a target

In far corner of the Arctic,

And I found source of this creeping:

I heard one huge iceberg, weeping,

Shedding itself in grief’s gallons

Into sea for no apparent

Reason; then I listened more

And all became a little more

Haunting, as these teardrops echoed

Around this deserted ghetto…

It seemed that the sun had kidnapped

Icebergs that it would not give back –

So this iceberg mourned its siblings.

With tears’ torrents, it was shifting

Tides towards us, and our coasts

So soon the coasts would be as close

As our front doorsteps; but the creep

Went unheard by the people.  Meek,

Made humble by this distant threat,

I did what these seas did – I crept

To my room, that tomb,

And I slept.

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