Cork poet laureate William Wall: At Two and a Half Degrees

In the latest of our monthly poems by William Wall, the Cork poet reflects on issues around climate change 
Cork poet laureate William Wall: At Two and a Half Degrees

William Wall, Cork Poet Laureate. Picture: Denis Minihane

On COP26

at two and a half degrees
the flat of the city 
will be water
I walk Horgan’s Quay
thinking of rising seas
drowned streets
the shadow of November
two thousand and nine 

this is the cost
that capital never paid
a few hundred years
of asset stripping nature
a future mortgaged
for bone china and the steam engine
the Ford Model T
and Fitbits 

at two and a half degrees
a world drowning
in its own sweat
a planet with
a respiratory disease
lungs clogged with plastic
a heart as black as coal 

I see a ship coming up
between the navigation walls
following the scar scoured
by the last glaciation
here once was ice 

a man on deck waves
to a mother and child
standing on the edge
of the granite wharf
and five hundred miles away
in a ventilated room
masked and sanitised
the leaders of the world
calculate the least
effort needed to give
that child a future
at two and a half degrees

November 2021

  • William Wall is a poet from Cork, and is currently the city's Poet Laureate. An initiative of the Munster Literature Centre that is funded by Cork City Council, Wall writes a poem every month, giving a personal response to issues in the city and county. The Irish Examiner publishes these poems in the first week of every month, and the works will also be collected into a chapbook to be launched at next year's Cork World Book Festival.
  • William Wall's latest collection, Smugglers In the Underground Hug Trade, has recently been published by Doire Press

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