when will it be enough? when you have died, and your body is rotting in the ground, and the acidic rain burns below the soil into your bones, will you admit that it mattered? when I cannot have children, because the impact of another human, another body, replacing yours in the world’s ever growing carbon footprint, would be too great a burden to bear, will you see what you have done? when the lakes run blood orange with the pollution to fuel your corporations, when I can barely breathe for fear of your filth in my lungs, when I only get half the years you did because you have preemptively killed me, will you acknowledge the way you ruined us? I want to grow old with my brother, with the love of my life, with my college friends and neighbors I was raised with from just down the street, I want to have not only ten and twenty and thirty year high school reunions but fifty year reunions, sixty years of marriage, seventy years of fruitful life I remember joking wryly with a friend of mine in middle school, when we were all of twelve years old, that it didn’t matter whether or not we’d be successful in our careers because the world would burn before we even got the chance to start you have stolen my future before I even got the chance to develop my past and for all of the worry instilled in my generation, all of the documentaries violently pushed before our youthful eyes, still too big and round for the faces we hadn’t grown into yet, still glassy with the childhood curiosity that is supposed to reflect promise and potential placed before them but rather shone with infographics threatening two degree celsius increases to the world’s average temperature, video clips of hurricane wreckage in Puerto Rico, of California on fire, of evacuations from the mountains just a few miles away from my home for all of this worry, you changed nothing you stole our innocence in the name of a problem we are now responsible for solving you caused this, you recognized this, yet you have continued to dig deeper, year after year, with these irreparable damages in the name of profit margins, stock prices, projected growth and money, money, money, money makes the world go ‘round, money is worth everything, money is worth me, my future, my health and my happiness and my hurt because where would we be without your stupid fucking money? maybe we would be in a world where white rhinos did not just become functionally extinct maybe we would be in a world where my cousin doesn’t have to check the air quality index every time she leaves her apartment because she lives in a major city maybe we, I, could enjoy the teen years like you got to without this crippling fear, this doubt, this imminent doom that is largely out of my own control I am terrified I am so scared that humanity won’t pull through, that we won’t get our shit together and find a way out of your crisis, and I will not get the life I deserve and you won’t even admit you are in the wrong so when I am lying in the grave that you dug for me - no, the grave that you dragged me into - I will cry out one last time, and I will push this pain out of my body, out of my spirit and my life and my person and I hope it finds its way back to you in this universe you will feel the slap of my death across your face as if it was imprinted with my own hand and someday, somewhere, I hope you suffer for it Sincerely, Your Daughter ____
Catherine Malden is a student at Duke University studying Computer Science and English, with a minor in Creativing Writing. She is currently a sophomore from Denver, Colorado. This is her first time publicly sharing her poetry.