Cassandra Bousquet is 18 years old. She enjoys knitting, reading, spending time in nature, and participating in theatre and chorus. She has been writing all her life and hopes to be a successful author in the future. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Youth Climate Ambassador program put on by San Mateo County’s Office of Sustainability, San Mateo County Office of Education, Citizens’ Environmental Council of Burlingame and Peninsula Clean Energy. Her work is featured in the collaborative poem, “Breathe,” which appeared in Nature & Culture 2021 Festival Book (Copenhagen: Red Press Kulturhuset Islands Brygge & Københavns Kommune, 2021). She is continuing her climate activism through her Instagram @unitedagainstclimatechange
THE WOMAN AND THE OCEAN The ocean came And swept away All of the memories that lay on the sand All of the jealousies and contraband Into her depths, these frightful follies flew Unleashing sorrow, and toxins too The man who gave his wife a plastic ring Was swept to his death by the ocean’s wing The wife, she cried, in life, she tried, to live in simple elegance But every time she came to the shore, to mourn the wasteful days of yore She was surrounded by plastic remnants, skeletal fragments Of a life One day she sat and looked at the sky Reflecting that she, not plastic, was made to die She stared at her finger, bony and bare And recollected the ring that once had been there Cheaper than diamonds, but oh so costly! For it had wreaked havoc when tossed by the sea Plumes of spray misted her face Blessing her with awareness and grace The waves kept crashing, as a bird keeps flapping, fighting for the right to fly, crying to reverse ‘goodbye’ The other people on the beach—they closed their eyes, they did not speak As the woman flew into the breach, they were blind to their mistake And they did not understand, those people on the sand, what the woman was trying to teach They bought their partners plastic rings Married themselves to the toxic king De-beautified the beach and consumed without thinking Some of them recognized what they were doing, but they did not try to stop the shameful un-doing They said it was an inevitable thing The woman whose body became part of the spirit Of the great ocean that was so very ill Cried out in pain, but the people couldn’t hear it And she continues to cry out still
Oceans rising Temperatures reaching Record highs Climate lies Are so ingrained in our consciousness We aren’t surprised When people say there is nothing we can do. We don’t believe them, But we’re not shocked When they don’t believe; We just groan, And weep our salt tears Into a river of rage, Heating up our bodies Becoming plastic; It’s no wonder The acidity of politics Is breaking down into microaggressions Polluting our world. Oceans rising Creatures dying Heads trapped in plastic bags Icebergs melting, We’ve seen the pictures Since we were children It’s not surprising More aren’t climbing Off the escalator to hell They say, The current is too strong But they, Don’t reach out their hand to feel it To see if that’s true. Oceans rising Islands sinking Villagers burning trash And dying from toxic fumes; It’s not talked about enough, Not nice to think about, will make you lose your appetite, But children are hungry In other countries And even our own But we don’t see it; Our culture looks for muscle, not for bone. Oceans rising Heating, bleeding How sick she must feel! Some look to Space For a way out But we’re too far in Too deep in chaos Flailing, failing, To back out now. Oceans rising How much more time have we? For greedy old men to stop being so obsessed With pretty pieces of paper That they turn our world into plastic; Cheap perfume of dust and chemicals Tearing costly holes in the fabric of our atmosphere, Pretending they can’t hear: The desperate screams Of our Mother And of her children?
Copyright © 2022 by Cassandra Bousquet. Used with permission of the author.