I wrote this poem ten years ago now. I didn’t think it was that long ago. But boy, has a lot happened in those ten years. Well, actually, no. Regarding the subject of the poem, sweet F A has happened. Except that the problem has gotten 10 years worse, and will take us longer than ten years more to fix-slash-reverse the effects of those ten years.
So why am I posting this now? Well, you’ve probably all heard about the new findings showing that the western Antarctic ice sheets are going to melt. Going to. No might, no perhaps, no could or even will, if we…. They are going to melt. And Meghna, the last stretch of the Ganges, will then become the shallow harbour of Bangladesh. And there will plenty of shallow harbours around the world, it seems. And also shallows where once there were islands. There are calls to action. But will we act?
The Shallow Harbour of Bangladesh
Standing upon the rise, beard growing icicles in the wind,
Eyes weeping from it and the fields falling frozen before him,
Drifts against dead hedges, reindeer shelter in lees,
Eking out the existence once thriving life with sheep,
When the warm rain came.
Crouching on dry gravel, shaking stones in fist,
Scatters, shaking head at emptiness,
Lizard skitters across pebbles, scavenging scarce parched seeds,
Sun beats upon neck back and all before, years,
Used to draw grains and vines once sustained by winter snow,
And spring showers that sprinkled flowers,
Now storms wash out ravines of dust and dried husks.
A man stands proud upon a prow, poling into treacherously turbid estuary
Drowned mangroves threaten to mire like the lost tiger,
Channel shallows past the Sundarbans, showing signs of past life,
Here and there stilts stick up that once held houses,
Where one would watch the Ganges disgorge slowly,
Switched around to see the sea swallow,
Several names of river back to the border,
Splitting into a harbour a hungry nation awaiting huddled upon the bank,
The man sailing over rice paddies,
Fishing upon his former fields.