I live between two different worlds. I grew up amidst the bustling streets of London, but I now live in a small town in Essex. My memories of nature in London are full of tenacious pigeons and green spaces that overflowed with people as soon as the sun peeked timidly from behind a cloud. Nowadays, I share my walk to university with rabbits and a variety of birds with whom I am still coming to terms. I have developed a great appreciation for the variety of life I encounter, and I often risk running late to class because I can’t help but pause to watch the life around me. This is not to say that I don’t love my hometown of London. It’s full of a different sort of life. Art is being created around every corner, and there is diverse beauty in the humanity that surrounds me there. The city offers a deep sense of connection.
For all the city has to offer, however, I cannot get over the feeling that it is temporary. The huge scale of our most wonderful cities around the world carries a dark undertone. We simply consume too much. Increasing urbanization, fueled by a growing population, is pushing the earth to its very limits. We need to slow down. There are other, more promising, trends. The rise of veganism and vegetarianism fills me with hope for the future of our relationship with the world and its inhabitants; ecological topics are gaining political traction; many people are starting to think green. Even still, we would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t think there was much work to be done. I don’t have all the solutions, nor do any of us. Working together is the only way we are going to accomplish our goals.
The following poems stem from this place of insecurity, combined with my love for the world around us—a desperate picture of a world populated by wonderful, creative creatures. In the first poem, “A Portrait of Decay,” I explore the way that modern life and nature exist together, even as plants and animals are pushed aside by humanity’s sheen. In the second, “City Escape,” by relating the intricacies of the mind to a city, I hope to show the beauty of both complex organisms.
A Portrait of Decay
A row of garages, all painted blue,
The daffodils droop in the evenings,
And the apples are left to rot.
I see a thousand windows shining,
Hiding a thousand contradicted minds,
Playing deafening sounds in full-screen.
I counted sixty cars before I got bored,
Two crows sit on the arm of a lamppost,
Isn’t it pretty to think?
I like to make my life choices at the end
Of a cigarette. Forging my resolve
In a furnace deep below my heaving chest.
Heavy tendrils of remembrance float
Around my head. Phantasmic daffodils
Sprout, feeding hungry roots in the piled ash.
Show me the cities in your mind:
The streets that heave, the dusty alleys,
The emotion behind each corner,
Lighting up your eyes.
What winds pull the birds homewards?
Wings beating air exhaled
By the flightlines of our thought
As life unfolds below them.
Hear the words on each corner,
Learn the lives that people live
In each forgotten district
And read poems in the parks.
Let me feel the rhythm
Of each tight-chested embrace.
Stifled breath, ripping fabric
And the hope for something new.