Lauren Hacke, age 15
I wrote this poem when reflecting on the irony of how humans create, only to destroy.
I’ve climbed mountains,
in every capital, country, continent.
Mountains grazing the stars,
mountains gazing imperiously upon us younglings,
mountains I should be careful not to fall off of.
I was born in the parched valleys of the Zagros, nurtured by the fortuitous fertile flooding of minds melding into a pen, writing me into my mother’s billion-year-old chronicles.
I trekked through the meringue peaks of the Alps, whipped to perfection by roaring glaciers and sprinkled with powdered-sugar snow I trapped with my tongue.
I tamed the Rockies, warmed its pine-needled demeanor with my manifest destiny.
I even conquered the tip of Everest while the biting, beating wind attempted to smother my fiery breath.
Prometheus gave my brethren glowing embers.
I was granted the wildfire to spread farther, wider, higher.
I’ve made mountains.
It took crawling on my knees to create such wonders.
My own mountains sprawling across the world, like a carefree, languorous child, spread-eagled in a sinking bed.
I gave birth to the ziggurat, constructed from sun-baked bricks,
climbing in steps that we all must take to make:
Gothic spires rising above everything else, striving to poke the heavens awake.
Pagoda, tiers dripping with eaves, stacking upon each other to seduce the sky.
But Burj Khalifa, my dearest child,
In your shining steel and glass glory that bewitched the sun, I can see my reflection:
I am Prometheus.
I was wrapped in my own flaming chains I forged.
The eagle, my hurting sister, tore at my broiling liver.
Nemesis’s beak should’ve blazed, become a torch,
but mother was desperate to save her chronicles from my inferno.
Too helpless, too distracted to conceive more eminences,
I burned and bled,
into red ashes that you unwittingly inhale.
In the end, my children,
I didn’t fall off of my mother’s mountains.
We destroyed me, my darlings,
but your nuclear shadows still remain.
Your family says thank you.