We Smoke Pollution

We smoke pollution. We inhale smog through
our lungs, exhale oxygen through our pores.
They engineered us, humans, to consume
pollution rather than feed its hunger with our
waste, our greed, our materialism, our capitalism.

Our skin turns grey, grey, and greyer still,
but the earth becomes greener, more vibrant,
fertile once more. Then, we shed our skins and
watch as it turns to soil, feeding the earth and
its beings: the budding young, the withering
leaves and petals, the brittle and entrenched roots.

We pour our shades and our browns and our
whites and our blacks and our yellows into
the ground—a swirl of liquid community
coming together with the greens to save us
so we may also save them. Together in an
industry of cultures rather than markets, we
will restore Mother’s colours we had dulled.

With our skins and our limbs and our minds,
we replace plastic with paper, fossil fuel
with electricity and wind and the sun. We
whisper to one another the natural disasters,
the broken homes, the soot in lungs. And we
reach out to the people of nature, the people
who always knew what earth needed, those who
understood how to communicate with something
we hid from in cities. They teach us the ways
of the land, how to become one with nature,
how we have always been and always will be one
with the land we call home, the trees around us,
the animals we’ve shunned, domesticated, hunted.

To reclaim the connection we severed will be a long
journey, but Mother has always been waiting. And
she will continue to wait until each of her children,
man and beast and greenery, walk towards her once
more, hand in hand, with clear water flowing from
their bodies, healthy roots growing from their heads.

Then we can say, Mother, we succeeded.

—Ai Jiang