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A poet speaks at the UN Biodiversity Summit

A poet stands up to give testimony
to the 2nd lower committee of the High Council
of the 46th UN Biodiversity Summit. He stutters,
shuffles smudged biro notes nervously – begins:
“I want you to imagine you are a whale, held
like a lover between waves and the seabed…”
The members tut, make marks on branded notepads.
Where has your study been published? They ask.
The poet mumbles that he’s had a sonnet accepted
to a webzine run by left wing radicals in Glasgow
but he has listened to the breath on the wind, and –
what is the cost of a barn owl on the stock market
the members ask, the investment options of a beehive
the profit margin of the curve of a songbird’s wing
and its effect on the national unemployment rate
the cost versus benefit of keeping fish in the sea
the coal in the ground, the breath in our lungs
but that night when they are held like lovers
between waking and sleeping, the members are
dreaming of the poet’s words, writing new lines
and wake up wondering how the poem ends

Ben Ray is a poet, reviewer and workshopper. He is a patron of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival and a winner of the 2019 New Poets Prize. His most recent collection is The Kindness of the Eel (The Poetry Business, 2020), and his writing has appeared in a wide range of publications such as Poetry Wales and The Oxford Review of Books. Find out more at or on Twitter at @BenRayThePoet

Image © Janet Lees 2020

biodiversity, connection, poetry

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