Friday Poem – ‘For a Coming Extinction’ by Pascale Petit


As COP26 continues in Glasgow, this week’s Friday Poem is ‘For a Coming Extinction’ by Pascale Petit which features in the anthology 100 Poems to Save the Earth.

100 Poems to Save the Earth Edited by Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans

Our climate is on the brink of catastrophic change. 100 Poems to Save the Earth invites us to fine-tune our senses, to listen to the world around us, pay attention to what we have been missing. The defining crisis of our time is revealed to be fundamentally a crisis of perception. For too long, the earth has been exploited. With its incisive Foreword from editors Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans, this landmark anthology is a call to action to fight the threat facing the only planet we have. 

For a Coming Extinction
(after W. S. Merwin)
You whom we have named Charger, Challenger,
Great King, and Noor the shining one,
now that you are at the brink of extinction,
I am writing to those of you
who have reached the black groves of the sky,
where you glide beneath branches of galaxies,
your fur damasked with constellations,
tell him who sits at the centre of the mystery,
that we did all we could.
That we kept some of you alive
in the prisons we built for you.
You tigers of Amur and Sumatra,
of Turkey and Iran, Java and Borneo,
and you — Royal Bengals, who lingered last.
Tell the one who would judge
that we are innocent of your slaughter.
That we kiss each pugmark,
the water trembling inside
as if you had just passed.
Masters of ambush and camouflage,
hiding behind astral trees,
invisible as always,
when we gaze up at the night,
when we look lightyears into the past —
we see your eyes staring down at us.

100 Poems to Save the Earth is available on the Seren website: £12.99

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Read our COP26 guest post from 100 Poems to Save the Earth co-editor Kristian Evans.

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