He takes his pleasure, then burns, leaving mile-wide scars. She trembles, drawing a vaporous cloak around her form.
Her sisters sing low, tending wounds.
He poisons the air. The sisters cry dissent to deafened ears, opaque eyes. She wraps her cloak more thickly, shedding acid tears.
And still, her man marauds.
Then, a virus whispers winds, unseen. One by one, the people sicken. Many die. It’s his turn to hide.
For two months, she flourishes, despite being parched. There is calm. Foxes strut, birds sing long and loud, their melodies soaring on purified air.
It is time, she says. Fecund, she unfolds her cloak, birthing young to sing and dance, jump, and play.
When he sees how powerful she is, he ventures forth. At first, she does not see the debris and destruction. The slow, almost imperceptible poisoning.
And finally, the burning.
Trees wail, as rivers drain away. And he revs up, lights up, turns the music up, ears and eyes closed.
Then, something unforeseen happens. His brothers join her sisters.
‘What is this madness?’ The brothers’ voices roar on the wind, as they fly arm in arm with the sisters in song.
It’s a long and laboured task. There are mountains to climb, pain-laden stories to tell, scars to honour.
The sisters ululate. Remorseful tears trickle falteringly down the brothers’ cheeks. A slow lament pushes past their throats.
And Gaia smiles a full moon, reflecting off every lake, river and sea. She dances with mighty trees, is refreshed by crystal rain, sighs on pure winds, shares her gentle fire.
And from underneath a freshly woven cloak, her young emerge.
“Climate change is the result of myopia and greed. Climate myopia means we don’t feel the visceral need to eat less meat, burn less fossil fuel, travel more kindly. If we could see our grandchildren losing lives and livelihoods, if we could see we’re all connected, if we could see the rich could tumble and burn – then maybe, just maybe we would change our ways. What the earth needs is for us all to feel gut-wrenching remorse for what we’ve done. And then, to hold hands and rise up en masse, with a peaceful determination to heal our home.”
Bonnie Meekum’s words are published in Briefly Zine, Bath Flash Fiction Festival Anthology, Reflex Press, Moss Puppy Magazine, Roi Fainéant, and Fly on the Wall Press, among other places. She lives in Greater Manchester, growing disobedient vegetables and grandchildren. She also travels alarming distances to visit people she loves.