Anne Casey

Either way, the fact remains; where once she danced: Anne Casey

Either way, the fact remains

There is no way back
Therefore we can no longer hold as irrefutable truth that
Every human heart has sufficient good at its core
That we could muster the collective will necessary to save our precious planet
There is no denying
We are capable of taking the measures necessary for our own survival
To secure the future for us and the almost nine million species around us
We could make the right choices
The fact remains that
Earth cannot repair itself
There is no basis even from advanced satellite findings to show that
Earth and all who dwell on her can survive the impacts of human activities
The greatest scientific minds of our time attest that
The world’s largest living structure, the Great Barrier Reef, is on-path to certain destruction
That over two thousand species from sea-level to two thousand metres deep are destined to perish
We can no longer support the assertion that
There is always a way—
There is a way to undo the damage we have done—
Allowing that we make every effort to counter global excesses
The impact of human activities is irreversible
Although we may think
That we can take action to fix this
We cannot deny the inevitability
That not one of us can make a difference
Nature cannot heal itself
We can no longer lie to ourselves that
This devastation can be reversed
(Now read each line from the bottom up.)

This poem was awarded 3rd Prize in the Proverse International Poetry Prize 2019 (Hong Kong).

where once she danced

beyond the sleepy dapplings of the mangroves
trailing lazy limbs into the drowsing waves
across the turquoise crests of placid currents
that lap up to the gently sloping shore

out past the breakers idly frothing
beneath the rolling drifts of whitecap spray
once I saw her dance, her head encircled brightly
in blooming rubicund and blazing saffron stars

tresses dressed with every hue there budding
ribbons streaming emerald and vivid sapphire-blue
peacock-feathered tendrils trailed behind her
a giant clam gasped deep and wide with awe

humpback whale came to slowly drift above her
their voices joined the wind to sing her praise
seals paused to frolic in her swirlings
a maori wrasse gliding past took his fill

and later as the evening stretched and lingered
slow to let the day slip to the sea
the sun came slanting through that glassy window
to spread a crimson blanket for her sleep

leaping with first light came the dugongs
and dolphins circling idly by her side
dragon-fish nimbly flitting through her fingers
Neptune’s Cup Sponge brushing past her toes

as clownfish coaxed a path around her shoulders
where her braids were twined with amber
and with rose; turtles grazed on grassy rolling
borders, porcupine ray rippling in the flats

ribboned pipefish nibbled at the treats she offered
mantis shrimp and krill came picking at the crumbs
in her garden suffuse with every colour
bottlebrush bordered staghorn skirting ferns

but storms came to dash her radiant features
her gorgeous tresses have all turned white with woe
her feathered boas are falling all around her
blossoms fading from magenta, fuschia, gold

angelfish in anguish bow their heads down
swimming hard against a swiftly rising tide
she is drowning in a sea awash with cobalt
deadly metals fill the channels where she breathes

her lovely limbs are shackled down with plastics
her lungs are laced with deadly manganese
a crown of thorns to pierce her pretty head
a bed of sludge to lull her in her dreams

her cherished creatures perish all around her
in the clutch of slowly simmering seas
where once beyond the dapplings of the mangroves
beneath the drowsing waves and turquoise crests

way out past the breakers idly frothing,
I saw her dance, her head encircled brightly
in blooming rubicund and blazing saffron stars
tresses dressed with every hue there budding

ribbons streaming emerald and vivid sapphire-blue

This poem was awarded 2nd Place and Highly Commended in the Planet in Peril Poetry Competition (UK) – a joint initiative by Fly on the Wall Poetry Press; World Wildlife Fund; The Climate Coalition; Dr Michelle Cain (Oxford University); former Derbyshire Poet Laureate, Helen Mort; and wildlife photographer, Emily Gellard. This poem was also Commended in the Sutherland Shire Literary Competition 2020 (Australia)

Award-winning, Sydney-based Irish poet/writer, Anne Casey is author of two collections published by Salmon Poetry – where the lost things go and out of emptied cups. A journalist, magazine editor, legal author and media communications director for 30 years, her work is widely published internationally, ranking in leading national newspaper, The Irish Times' Most Read. Anne has won/shortlisted for poetry prizes in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK, the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia, and serves on numerous literary advisory boards.