Landscaped (by Wole Soyinka)
we’re swallowed, when a wave has such force;
over the lights other lights are a swollen electric talk;
leaving emits beginning, like a newer tear; &
even then ants eat time;
serious bizness is left inside the music;
ordinance unexploded scattered on saturated ground;
you might realize, when my reflection explodes;
in the half-light the city becomes dried out,
nailed against a scrawled note;
kennels are a good place to keep silver.
At each quiet moment laughter walks
‘Landscaped’ struck a chord in me this morning. Fukushima nuclear plant surfaces in a stream of thought. I am sidetracked from doing my homework by ‘Landscaped’ which, to me, is really a state of mind and I want to find out where we really are with all that is going on around us today.
So, I’m stuck on thoughts of the Fukushima nuclear plant explosions and radiation leaks. Ultimately, the long-term impact of it all is still an unknown, but the chemistry of our global landscape (mind-scape, if you prefer) is and must be altered forever as a result. If Chernobyl didn’t do it for us, then; Fukushima really should, now.
Flashes of the televised images of the Tsunami bounce around my head. The reports of the break in the usual stoicism of Japanese composure stays with me. Not only for its perplexing stereotyping of a people; but that it was a point of note, repeated several times in the news segments. Who on earth could experience such as we saw and not react to seeing their loved ones again, or finding out they are all gone, or being grateful that they survived even if every last possession was lost in the mud and sea?
We watched their world dissolve into heart breaking grief in some, relief of reunions overwhelming others; utter bewilderment and devastation for all. As if that was not enough, we now have the nuclear plant of Fukushima to contend with. And I use the word ‘we’ to pointedly include us all in the story of the Japanese Tsunami, its aftermath and the earthquake of a few days ago. We could watch the sea rolling in and over everything in its wake, however involved and determined to help, it was still from the comfort of our ‘safe’ environment. It happened there, not here. Well, not really. Nuclear waste and radiation is carried in the seas and air all around us and will move around the world. (Remember that fish you ate yesterday?) So, how does this affect us in the long-term and will worrying about it do us any good?
Bottom line answer is ‘We don’t really know’. Worrying about it will only make us sick – literally. But, what we can do is keep supporting the Japanese people in their efforts to rebuild their lives. Continue to lobby our Governments to spend OUR tax money on investing in alternative energy producing sources. More importantly, leave nuclear experimentation in the hands of the Universe. Because the glaring fact is we cannot control what happens when something goes wrong, and we certainly cannot determine that nothing will ever go wrong – it does. That is fact we’ve seen. That is life.
So, are we willing to stick to this almost bloody minded trajectory of nuclear energy to power our energy-monster dependent lifestyles? Take the risk with nuclear energy production, and end up killing us all? Every living thing? What are we prepared to do to ensure ‘WE’ the people are responsible for what we allow to be built around us, near our waters, on our land? Is the earth and all in it in our care not only for ourselves but for generations to come? If not for the fact that we place ourselves at the top of the chain, but because we are the biggest parasites on the earth, its resources, as well as the worst predators of other animal and plant life.
Is it not madness on nuclear proportions to continue to pursue a trajectory, which has left us with Ozone holes, Climate Change woes, Nuclear plant fears, Depressive outlooks – and throwing in a random – shooting in schools by former pupils? Something is not working here, and it is blasted out to us in so many ways. If not now, then when do we commit to effect change?
It is one thing to cope with natural disasters (though arguably a lot of what seems natural is, to me, more and more man-effected), another to face a wholly man-made catastrophe; engineered time bomb is not real human progress. Many scientists may be horrified, but what good is nuclear energy to us when we cannot really control it, nor have any idea what to do to stop a meltdown when it begins. For at the core of this pursuit is an arrogance that has set the world on an axis which has done more damage than good to all, and the planet’s future. It takes for granted the fragility and beauty of ALL Life. In all, it seems we have forgotten the simple gifts we were born with, and the treasures intrinsic in watching a sunrise or sun set; all that we inherit from the daily turning of the Earth.
The Tsunami in Japan and all that has transpired in the aftermath, is a reminder to never take for granted that life is short and anything, anything can happen. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, or any place for that matter. Living the now in love, laughter, song (even if it is off-key and out of tune!), dances of hip shattering gyrations, to embrace all the goodness, lows, and wonder of life is being human. To trust your close ones, friends and elders not to betray you, lest they betray themselves. To dare to dream and hope where there is no hope and dreams seem a waste of time. Laughter and songs are great, best instant remedies we have at our disposal to lift our spirits and alter the landscape of emotions and thoughts that stream through us. I think we all agree, these are needed for us all, who bravely, and without much ado face the insurmountable everyday. The somehow, someway to surmount the insurmountable is a living testimony to human courage, dignity and resilience. It is not exclusive to any one of us. It is a shared trait in us all. It is the essence of life. We all embrace life in ways that make living easier, some arguably more productive and constructive than others but all with one aim, live a good life inside and outside.
Laughter filled, dancing, belly achingly good EVERYDAY to you all.
One thought on “Landscaped”
I love this poem, and have been trying to find out in what poetry collection(s) it is published. Where did you find it? What year was it written?