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The legacy

"The Harrowing of Hell" (ND)

"The Harrowing of Hell" (ND) by Follower of Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450 –1516) - Sotheby's London, 14 April 2011, lot 5, Public Domain, Link.

What a world we’re leaving—
I want to apologize to every
child I see. Yes, we baked it,
poisoned it, gutted it, cooked

up new diseases from tropics,
wet markets, arrogance. How
can they ever forgive us,
we who remember oceans

with live fish in them, gardens
with butterflies and many birds,
savannas with lions, jungles
with tigers, elephant families.

We who could swim in clean
rivers, who remember when
hurricanes were occasional
when summers were bearable

in cities. We didn’t care enough
to leave you a livable world.
We were just too busy buying
and selling, polluting and burning.

We were just too greedy to care.

Marge Piercy is the author of many books of poetry, most recently On the Way Out, Turn Off the Light (Knopf, 2020).
2021, Volume 73, Number 5 (October 2021)
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