Wise Poets – Naomi Shihab Nye – World Of The Future, We Thirsted

Naomi Shihab Nye (March 12, 1952 -)

Stripped of a sense of well-being,
we downed our water from small disposable bottles.
Casting the plastic to streetside,
we poured high-potency energy tonics or Coke
down our throats, because this time in history
had sapped us so thoroughly and
we were desperate.
Straws, plastic caps, crushed cans,
in a three-block walk you could fill a sack.
As if we could replenish spirits quickly,
pitching containers without remorse
—who did we imagine would pick them up?
What did we really know of plastic spirals in the sea
bigger than whole countries,
we had never swirled in one ourselves,
as a fish might do, a sea urchin, a whole family of eels,
did we wish to be invincible, using what we wanted,
discarding what we didn’t, as in wars,
whole cities and nations crumpled
after our tanks and big guns pull out?
How long does it take to be thirsty again?
We were so lonely in the streets though
all the small houses still had noses, mouths,
eyes from which we might peer, as our fellow-
citizens walk their dogs, pause helplessly as the dogs
circle trees, tip their heads back for a long slow slug
of water or tea, and never fear, never fear.

*National Poetry Day in England*