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The Optimist

if you are planting a seed and someone tells you that the world is ending
carry on planting your seed
if it looks as though the gloss is peeling off the horizon
and the planks of sky are cracked and caving in
run your hands across the soil and plant your seed anyway
if khalifa of the earth sounds like a misty goal
while crude oil sludges through our veins
if you find your body too bloated to feel
as madness swirls on the tv screen
when there’s killing and killing for no cause
catalogues spilling their guts through our front doors and
images, frantic like moth wings, strobing through our dreams
until we don’t care what they mean
when you think He’ll roll up the sun, topple the mountains and set the seas alight
when you think we are doomed to be choke-held by the night
                                                     don’t run
we only have the keys to this world
and there are no doors
only mirrors
if someone tells you that it’s ending
then drop to your knees
plant your seed
leave a legacy in that dip of earth
even when it seems you can’t bank on tomorrow
don’t give up on its worth
how many times have we laid a shroud on the future
only to find holes and flowers stretching through
faces upturned to the sun
how many children have laughed at the face of an adult, acting the adult from when they were young
how many hands have reached out to hold another
until the last day, we are in this together
how many bodies in sajda, head low spirit high
a look and a smile with a passerby
that says, in a second, we’re here, you are someone
how many breaths,
God’s gift to Adam (as)
particles flooding into lungs, deep enough to nudge the heart and roll out the words
                         I love You
                                          thank You
if we refuse ourselves this care, the possibility of a tree to swap air with
a possible child unborn
the brickwork for something new, the raking before the lawn
if we refuse to plant, even at the end
aren’t we ungrateful for this moment?
this second that we can know we’re alive but admit we don’t know everything
if you are planting a seed and someone tells you that the world is ending
carry on.

Rakaya Esime Fetuga is a poet and facilitator based in London, UK. Her work joins conversations on overlapping identities, faith and culture as self-affirmation. Taking inspiration from black feminist writers and Islamic Sufi poets, Rakaya’s work depicts women of the global majority through an ethereal lens. Rakaya won the Roundhouse Poetry Slam 2018 and the Spread the Word Young People’s Laureate for London Poetry Awards 2017. She hosts open mic nights and supports other young writers to nurture their talent.

YouTube channel:
Instagram: @RakayaEsime
Image © Janet Lees 2020


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