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Francis Burke

Caesar Rodney HS, 10th grade

Mother Nature

I am outside. Sound blares from screens in every direction I turn, and light blots out the stars in the night sky. Foul, black asphalt smothers the flowers and the ladybugs, while cars spew their smoke into my lungs. I wonder if the gods I pray to can even hear me over this noise. If they would bother to bless a world so cruel, so inhospitable, ruined by the boots that trample over it. The cookie-cutter lawn in front of my home seems to mock me as I speak a quick prayer, my bare feet on the grass: I ask Mother Nature to spare me some of Her energy, to make me into something divine. I feel the grass on my skin and wish to be – to be something more than human, more than those who tear apart the very land I stand on. I ask Mother Nature to bless me with Her inhumanness, and then I put my shoes on, because I do not have the time to be blessed. Not in this busy world. 

As I make my way through the school day, I admire the way the sun shines through the window. I admire the trees, but only through a pane of glass. I cannot see the blue sky. I listen to endless conversations that hold no meaning, yelling and whispering that all hurt my ears just the same. I put my headphones on for some semblance of peace. My shoes hit the hard ground, squeaking a little as I walk between classes, and my hands are always occupied, either with my phone or with a pencil. I am never not doing something: everyday is a constant stream of work.

I wish I could be outside. I stare and stare longingly at the scenery that lay just beyond my reach. I think about the masses of land, the mountains, the oceans, the fields in the world that are begging me to come visit them, to see their beauty and bask in their light, but I am stuck in this building where the hum of the heater is louder than the noise in my head. 

Even when I am not in school, I don’t have much connection to Her. I do not go outside much. I am stuck in my room, by my own accord, with a computer in my lap. I could go outside – but how safe is it? Maybe I could go for a walk, but we have no sidewalks. I rely on the architecture that men made to be able to witness the nature that was here long before they were. And even if I could go outside, would it be worth it? Just to see the trash scattered across every road, the dead grass, the crumbling houses? How can I find serenity in the outside world when every time I step out the only things I can hear are cars, yelling, and construction? All of my rituals take place on the ledge of my window, hidden from the outside world by plastic and glass. My spells, my dreams, my religion, it’s all stuck in the four walls made of junk that I sleep in.

I like to think of the nature outside of my country as a wonderful, undisturbed thing, filled with foreign beauty that appeals to me, but that idea is gradually dwindling away as I realize the state of the climate. I scroll on my phone, endlessly and mindlessly, and every other headline says something about doom. We are doomed, the Earth is doomed, my gods are doomed; we have no hope. They tell me the fires raging across land, the melting ice in places where the ice is older than anything, the cities where the air is not safe to breathe, they tell me that is my only future. I wonder if the world will still be in one piece when I am old enough to travel it. I feel powerless. I feel like I cannot make a change, like all I can do is sit by and watch the people that are supposed to protect me fail their only home. I am a child. I am sixteen. I do not know a lot, but I know that I want to live in a world of protected beauty; the world we are supposed to have and the world that used to be until humans decided they were above Mother Nature. 

Many people find reverence in the things they cannot see: God, the Universe, spirits. I find reverence in what I can see. The way a tree’s roots reflect its branches, the way the mint sprouts grow back every year after being smothered by winter, the way the birds fly with their freedom through the air. The way everything on this Earth has aligned perfectly to allow us to live and thrive. How we are a part of the ecosystem, we are animals, we are worth no more, no less, than the bugs. We are not above nature – we are nature. We cannot deny our roots and put ourselves on the top of the Earth podium, ignoring and hurting the life all around us. 

Now I sit by my windowsill, a mess of an essay in front of me. I wonder and I wonder – I wonder how I’m supposed to describe what Mother Nature does for me in a way that does Her justice; I wonder how to convey the urgent need to save our world; I wonder how I’m supposed to not break under the pressure of climate doom. I feel like giving up, like I’ll never be able to do it right, and I almost do: I almost close my computer and go to sleep, letting myself stray further from nature as I always have. But I owe it to Her to try and fill the gap between us, and to try to save Her while there’s still time. 


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