The poems of writer and environmental activist Nandi Chinna tease out and explore her own experiences of change, in her body and in the plants, animals and ecosystems around her. In The Future Keepers, Chinna invites us to consider our role as custodians of a precious planet – and how what we value, how we act, and what we choose to remember, will all have an impact on what is to come.
In The Future Keepers, Chinna invites us to consider our role as custodians of a precious planet – and how what we value, how we act, and what we choose to remember, will all have an impact on what is to come.
Carnaby’s black cockatoo
In geological time their existence is nothing
but a tiny puff of breath exhaled against a flapping
of shiny feathers burnt black by the thousands
of years of their becoming.
In human time there are few of us left
who can recall now when the sun was eclipsed
by the size of the flock carving its trajectory
through the ruffled blue of the sky.
Wired to a length of tuart wood in a glass
display case, ID tags swinging from their claws,
the ngoolyark are gathering dust,
their plumes fading under scrutiny.
Archaeology has traced this kind
of disappearance before,
but what data will record the unravelling
in the nest of our ribs
when we see the ngoolyark
in a now-rare formation
circling over the multiplying city,
above the fine new artwork,
a sculptural representation of their habitat.
The Future Keepers
After staring through the window of the emergency ward
where tissue of extinct and endangered plants
glows on shelves under fluorescent lights;
and examining the 10 000 vials suspended
in liquid nitrogen, those minute memoirs
of species frozen in cryo storage,
I walk home through the park and try to get lost
along the terraces, find myself wandering
through the hakea and grevillea garden,
where weebills and singing honeyeaters
hang full-bellied from spiky blooms;
I think of the courage of the scientist,
keeping the future for a thousand years
when a human may (or may not)
release those tiny meristems
and plant them into whatever
the world has become.
The Future Keepers by Nandi Chinna is available in all good bookstores and on the Fremantle Press website.