top of page
  • Writer's pictureSabrina Guo

Aubade At Poyang Lake

“Our motivation should not be fear, but hope.” - Sir David Attenborough, 2021 COP26

I am fifteen and I watch

Grandma’s eyes glaze

over into rice paddies from her childhood

in China. One year, drought destroyed them,

brought a scarce and deadly yield of crops.

Living on their last bag of preserved

eggplant, her family scolded her for sneaking

vegetables to the livestock. They collected

rain for drinking water when lake beds

dried up, when sun burned through skin. I know

mouths can drink oil and bleed. Last year, I found

the cruel answer to Grandma’s prayers: harvesting

paddies in Poyang Lake, the water was

too deep, we were too late—they had

drowned. I want a world where we don’t

burn fossil fuels, rot ocean-lungs. One day,

my children should swim in clear waters, breathe

in fresh pine, play on the shore.


Jonnie Hughes, the director of the film A Life on Our Planet that accompanied Sir David Attenborough’s speech at COP26, commented on Guo’s poem: “A mini-epic that charts the changes that have, are, and that may happen over generations – the grand narrative that all alive now play a part in. There is suffering here, but also that vital force – hope, as we glimpse an aspirational future.”

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page