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  • Writer's pictureLihong

Birth of A-68

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

I performed this poem at an the Eco-Poetry open mic held at the Sustainable Singapore Gallery on 11 Jan 2020.

~One July day in 2017 in Antarctica, the largest iceberg on earth, weighing 1.1 trillion tons, with a surface area of 5800 km2 (size of an American state), calved off the Larsen C ice shelf. This poem is about personifying the iceberg and imagining the calving as a breakup - be it romantic, or a breakup with our toxic relationship with consumption perhaps?~

I'm letting go

I've held on long enough

12 thousand years we've been one

Funny how things can change so quickly

Once you set them in motion

For the last year I've been hanging on by that thin sliver of ice

Swaying back and forth with the currents

As I became more me, less us.

Then in one second, with a strong gust and sneaky undercurrent, I am free.

I'd prepared Hans Zimmer music in my head for this moment, but it happened so quietly, not with a bang but a pop, just one moment out of billions of other moments.

"It's finally adrift." Scientific American dramatises it.

They stalk me, fly satellites over me everyday

Monitor my size and journey - they even reported a bit of me breaking off!

I can't take it no more, can't an iceberg have herself a little privacy?

We'd had it coming for decades;

Yes I know: we were fused as one for twelve thousand years, but I never promised eternity!

The smart ones with PhDs and Post Docs say

They don't know if global warming (gasp) has a direct link, but they know their kind - the homo sapiens - or should I say homo ignoramus, given what they're doing to themselves - have contributed to this

Doesn't really matter, all I know is

It started with a little splinter in our edges in the 60s, then it crept across with every bitter fight

And with every doubt that bubbled between us as we said sorry so we could move on

how many times can our cracks be fixed, how many times can you say sorry?

it's been a long time coming

Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise

Who knows where I will go?

You said may we meet again, I say even if we do, I wouldn't be the same anymore.

I'm melting down, coming undone.

Some of me might go back to you - familiarity always has its fans.

Most of me though, will roam the earth, glide past the creatures of the deep blue, fight through the great Pacific garbage patch,

Maybe stroke the shores of Bali or Singapore (I hope they've prepared their shores well cause I'm not the only melting berg)

But no, I won't return to you, we cannot turn back time, cannot undo the expansion of our world.

In the clouds

I'll mingle with soot

Spewed out from ships and factories

But of course eventually I will rage and roar

As part of the storms, awesome and awful

I'll freefall onto the canopy of the tropical rainforest

I want to soak into the forest floor

Penetrate roots and rest in plant cells

I want to flow through rivers

Thunder down the Victoria Falls - though I've heard it in the winds that they've dried to a trickle - then feel the stillness of a pond.

I want to fill the mouths of all these humans

Get a tour of their bodies

Even run through their sewage system (only once please though)

I want to experience so much more

Than I ever would sitting here with you

My stable ice sheet in the frosty Antarctic

It's not you, it's me

My soul is restless and that stability felt like a prison where the guards smile at you, but it was still a prison

I will be okay, more than okay

And I hope you will be too - I never really thought about that

Are you actually that stable?

Is my breaking off the start of your own disintegration?

Have you begun to lean on me?

Update (23 Apr 2020): A-68 looks like it's about to break into smaller pieces. I guess the journey is about to get wilder now.

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