Perhaps... | a Poem by Siobhan Horner | Illustration by Will Baker

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Perhaps if we stopped spending money

On plastics and things that don’t rot,

Then our planet might have a chance

To recover and not lose the plot.

How hard can it be to stop taking

Our coffee in cups that won’t die?

If you know that each sip means the death knell

To sea-turtle, bird, butterfly?

Why must we keep shopping for new clothes

And wear them just one or two times?

Why don’t we do style like we mean it

From pre-loved or charity finds.

Is driving and flying all over

What we really all need to do?

Why can’t we say no to cars and planes,

Stay at home and take in the view?

Is it true there’ll be flooding and famine?

And forest and reef will be gone?

Homes will be swallowed by water

And seasons will blend into one?

The problem, we think, is being sorted

By boffins and those in the know.

‘I can’t make a difference’, we say to ourselves,

‘The news is all fake anyhow’.

Is that where the problem lies, truly,

We just don’t know who to believe?

Trump says it’s false, and we listen,

So to our old routines we cleave.

Perhaps it’s that ‘planet’ is too big a word,

Too out-of-reach, always elsewhere?

If we think of our cities like London or York,

Is that when we’ll start to care?

So, what if we brought it much closer,

As local as local can be?

Instead of the planet think homeward:

Your postcode, your street and your kin.

I think it might help, just bear with me,

To think of the world as our friend.

A sick one who needs tender loving

To really get back on the mend.

You wouldn’t ignore your good friend, now,

No matter what anyone said?

You’d go round with tea, dish out TLC

Till they were back up and ahead.

So, this week don’t think of the planet,

A concept that’s too big to hold.

Imagine instead how your hometown would look

With floods and a drought and no cold.

Imagine your high street in darkness,

Homes washed away in a flood

Granny without her prescription;

Fighting for food in cold blood.

So this week, for one week just do it,

Even though it will feel strange.

Refrain from that take-out, put back that cheap top,

And wear something old for a change.

And then if you do it for one week,

Just carry it on to the next

Before long it will be a habit

You’ll stop feeling so badly vexed.

The planet won’t thank you for action

It’ll carry on turning its sphere

But hundreds of next generations

Will look back and see what is clear.

That you were the person who did care

Pulled it back from the brink of decay,

Stopped in your tracks and listened for once

And heard what the world had to say.