Love in the Time of Climate Change

Riley Perry, 15, they/them/theirs

I Hope We Still Remember How to Hug

Emma Paris, 13, she/her/hers

my blood is buzzing in sync with the bees, who must know, as they are packing up quickly. most everyone has by now, taking their children, and their monogrammed photo albums, and their favorite ferns in homemade pots. they chase their safety somewhere in the middle states. 

for once, the deceitful tabloids next to the packets of cherry-flavored gum displayed in grocery store checkout lines were right; the world is ending. part of me still believes that the apocalypse is somehow my fault, that letting my truth spill out must’ve been some sort of catalyst, but now it doesn’t matter whether i bit eve’s apple or not. i’ll be sure to say hello to your mother when i go to hell with every other bastard who ruined your life.  

do you think the angels will show up when it happens, harps and all? 

for us? not a chance.

we walk side by side, no clear destination, passing abandoned houses and lonely sahuaros. your arms cradle an old flannel blanket, one that could’ve adorned our tacky floral sofa if we had gotten the chance to grow old together, wrinkled hand in wrinkled hand. i mutter curses for every adult who never gave a damn, as if it’ll do any good. even now, i can’t let go of the anger that holds my bones together like glue. 

look, you whisper in that fearless way of yours, your honey stained eyes trained on the sky. i do. an entire galaxy is on display, so close i feel as if i could swim in the milky way. your hand grips mine. it is cold and cracked, but i know that your lips are warm, like too-sweet coca cola that has been left in the sun. everything about you is summer sunshine and soft edges. 

 i remember what t.s. eliot said, thanks to that old english teacher of ours. i tell you as much. 

this is the way the world ends. not with a bang, but with a whimper.

 just you and me, you say, leaning close. holes have begun to appear in the sky now. three. four. five. 

just you and me, i repeat. it’s a prayer. i kiss your cheek, and you kiss mine. the world ends with you and i living forever.

I hope we still remember how to hug
when the new day dawns healthy and bright.
I hope our arms still ache to hold each other
and fingers still know how to grip tightly to backs
and entangle themselves in uncombed hair.
I hope hearts still long to feel another
pulsing light against their rib doors.
I hope hugs still remember us.
I hope they didn’t pack their bag and leave,
making sure to close the door behind them.
I hope our mountains still want to taste the sea.
I hope our bodies still want to
hold humanity between their joints.
I hope we still remember how to hug when sickness
follows human closeness out the rib doors,
shutting the bone door promptly in our faces.
I hope hugs find their way back in.
I hope we are still human when hugs return
to teach us in our heavily laden classrooms.
It’s simple they say
You hold out your arms,
and imagine the light of the universe
pulsing from your heart
into theirs.

シャグ木

“Shagged Tree”

Jacob L. Hertz, 13, he/him/his

The gleaming luminous blaze.
Is the golden flare a phrase?
To slay the shagged tree.
Does the flame, not me.

The earthy drift starts to blow.
Now the embers are aglow.
A forest, not long ago.
To slay the shagged tree.

Near the hearth, yet here I freeze.
Gone now are the fallen trees.
The sparks do one thing with ease.
They slay the shagged trees.

The delicate soul has been burned.
All the trees have been upturned.
For only a thing I’ve ever yearned.
To slay the shagged tree.

The radiant flicker is me.
Undoubtedly I’m carefree.
I slay the shagged tree.
But is the fire really me?

Visual Art by: Nirja Mehta, 13, she/her/hers