A drop in the ocean

I know my writing (and, indeed, my life) is just “a drop in the ocean”, ‘but what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?’ (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas). On this day of global Climate Strike protests, I’d like to share one of my poems about sea level rise that has just been published in Liquidscapes by Art.Earth

Aly Stoneman

Start at sea level and hit the up arrow –

dark blue engulfs Great Yarmouth
and Poole, then London, awash
from Canvey Island to Canary Wharf.

Or navigate home, reckon
the sea’s surge
over Domesday farmland,

outflanking you
click by click
to the threshold of your house,

your tongue slipping
on names sunk in sediment
and brackish water.

Your home means nothing to that future

of eroding cliffs, toppling pylons,
tree stumps at low tide;
decaying roads to no-place.

The sea sends
harbinger gulls inland.
We tread the high paths.

At sixty metres, we’re islands of National Park.


Note: ‘Sea level rise will continue beyond 2100 even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C […]’ (IPCC Special Report, 2018) and could rise 0.5m-2m this century, depending on global emissions. See also: ‘What the World Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted’, National Geographic, September 2013. The potential effects of global sea level change on coastal areas and communities can be seen on this interactive map: http://www.floodmap.net