“Return to Being;” A poem by Nnimmo Bassey
Excerpt from the special issue of the CEESP publication Policy Matters, focusing on the stories and voices of environmental defenders; by Nnimmo Bassey *
The poem by Nnimmo Bassey “Return to Being” tells of the destructive actions and decisions that humans make and of Mother Earth’s concern for the “children she has spawned”. Bassey takes us on a journey of self-reflection to decide whether we are “too far gone to hear” as we watch our “trees metamorphose into carbon sinks” while our “commons are enclosed”. The poem ends with Mother Earth awakening, embracing her visible and invisible children, and “finally humans return to being”.
Photo: Amal et al
Photo: Nnimmo Bassey
Photo: Nnimmo Bassey
The battle rages
Who must gobble up the carbon budget,
Wrap Mother Earth in endless bales of smog?
Whose task is to pile the climate debt
And whose lot to be the carbon slave?
Colonize the biosphere
Obliterate the ethnosphere
Hopes mapped in colonial geographies of death
Scarified for sport, booby-trapped and floating on blood
Burst the funeral drums,
Tighten the tourniquets on hard hearts ensconced in hard hats
Drain the pipelines of caked memories and know
Fancy names for deadly scourges never made them friendly
Not Ebola. Not novelty in novel coronavirus
What children have I spawned, Mother Earth groans
The commons enclosed, entrapped for delicate, bloodied trophy hunters
Civilized kids hooked on zoos incarcerate relatives for a touch of the wild
All game snatching bread from astonished mouths of orphans
Now all masked, suited and 7 billion jabs against zoonotic embraces.
Hear the footsteps from the receding market squares
Are you too far gone to hear?
Hear the rumblings of resistance to naked market forces
That roasted habitats and habitations
Lands, seas and skies grabbed yet dreams cannot be corralled ‘cause
Daughters of the soil are ever alert, awake, hoisting the sky
And its watery dusts
Knowledge demonized by demons of market environmentalism and brazen extractivism
As the hunter’s bag becomes a weapon of mass destruction
Bulging pockets hack horns and tusks and an array of idiotic aphrodisiacs for limp brains
Slithering across the Savannah, stomping on our ancestral hearths
Shall we look, exiled, silent, sullen, sunk and annihilated as our trees metamorphose into carbon sinks?
The dream is gone, the cock has crowed,
The betrayer seeks a branch to ape a pendulum swing
And one or two shed a tear for the press
As the hawk glides softly on the winds of the dirge seeking a hapless prey
Funeral drums burst by pulsating biceps of pain
Flutes whisper a dirge long forgotten suddenly emerging from the depths of years of erased histories
As daughters and sons of the soil pick up pieces of sacred hills, rivers, forests
Mother Earth awakes, embraces her visible and invisible children
And finally humans return to being.
Excerpt from the publication Policy Matters 22 - Special Issue on Environmental Defenders