Sila - a poem to explore alternative perspectives on climate


Sila: art by Aimée Lister

Ice thinning

Animals lost

In the heat of the sun

Home melting

Voice lost

In the strength of the wind


Scientific measures

Take away the atmosphere

Subtract our life to numbers

Telling me I cannot sense

I cannot see

How our world disappears

Into nothingness.


Yet we’ve

Never been stuck to a place

Aware of changes

Making living in the everyday

Not in labs miles away.

You say the sky you’re under

Cannot tell the history

Found in degrees C

But how to explain

The animals gone from our land

The paths we cross

Empty too early in the sea?

We are becoming the climate

But they say our voice cannot be

Heard.

Yet, we can fix the separation

Inhaling the icy air

Given from the skies

Embracing the rushing winds

Gifting us full of life

Tasting the same, single breath

Honoured by the falling snow.


The bears, the caribou sing with us too

Knowing we’ve always been connected

To the flows, and know

When it’s time to let go

And exhale

With our voices

Tied to the melting ice

We tell the stories

Our human rights

Of how if we accept this

As our home

Instead of a statistic on your phone

We can connect to it all

Make sense of the floods

Unite our sila

And breathe with love.

This poem explores (although not from an indigenous perspective) the Inuit notion of sila, meaning the unity of weather and climate, breath and atmosphere. Unlike in western science, the climate is not artificially abstracted for measurement, but "results from an ongoing rhythmic exchange across substances – between earth and sky, organisms and their environment."

With climate change, Inuit communities are continuing to use sila to show how ice is thinning and melting earlier, and animals are disappearing or changing migratory patterns. The hope is by returning to this interconnected breath, we can better understand our environment and make change.



By Louder Than The Storm writer Mattie O'Callaghan


#MATTIE_OCALLAGHAN

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