Volume 33, Number 3


Glaciers were melting.
Rising seas were eating the land. Ravenous,
they were starting to swallow whole island nations—
Tuvalu, Kiribati, Maldives.

Their wells already brackish and coastal villages flooding,
these low-lying lands went to Copenhagen in 2009
to plead for action at the UN Climate Change Conference.
They were begging for their lives.

China, the Saudis, India complained
about the expense. A US think tank testified
limiting greenhouse gases would be economically
damaging, trickle-down wealth was better.

Day by day
drop by drop
ice was trickling
into the sea.

The large globe hanging
in the conference center in Copenhagen
already excluded those islands.

Thirteen years later
they are still pleading
for their lives.

—Phyllis Wax