Meeting minutes – Carina

Meeting Minutes

Words CARINA GRIFFEN

this poem will do nothing. well,

pen to paper anyway –

but i am sick of spouting reassurances

even i do not believe.

my hometown hears i am studying climate science and i am away in the city. the air is jasmine and exhaust

and the woodsmoke of my childhood. this year the CFA has nowhere near enough volunteers and the dams

are already drying up. i do not want to go back for christmas just to see the fried yellow grass of my

childhood, drought once again turning footy fields into ovals of dust. i do not want to

hide out for weeks with ice cubes in our mouths, testing the hose

and glancing at the water tank, wondering if it will be enough. i think of my dog and her

soft black fur – and try not to think of late feburary doomsayings.

a black body is a theoretical perfect thing

but she is real and

just as vulnerable to

warming temperatures. i hear the pobblebonks chorusing in the creek

and think of the dried frogs we used to find, young and empathetic, before 2011,

not understanding how life

could lose everything so fast.

every assignment i complete

statistical analysis and default datasets, says (not nicely)

that

(devastation is always painted prettily and now we see it

looming on the horizon, not unfortunate but

pretty predictable, no one’s not

expecting hell)

every assignment says that

we are fucked.

and still, despite these unbecoming expletives

and megaphones:

nothing is jarring enough

to articulate our fear, or our

disillusionment.

we sound painfully

embarrassing and

not very dignified, believe us, we know

but fire eats up redgums like

governments eat up lobbyist pitches,

and we have not been taken seriously

maybe

ever in our lives.

poems not as a call to action but as a one-day relic. so that

we can point to their papery ashes, in a future that refused to heed us:

let the record show

that the diplomats were wearing suits and perfume

while gippsland and lismore flooded, while the north was swept

by cyclones and storms, while fires consumed an area i

can’t bear to project, but my lecturers and meterologists will be the messengers, hermes of destruction,

while our brothers and sisters in the western coral paradises were swallowed by the Pacific, as they begged

for relief and everyone talked about china’s military instead. while the reef, tourism asset, luxury escape

(greatest living thing on earth, electric jewel miracle) was bleached of colour and vitalité, colonised by

language and now by calcium carbonate acidified. while the old trees, sanctuary and saviours, were cut and

their protectors jailed, while you slit open the earth to prise her veins apart and burn her bloodclots for the

stock market. while rigs in the sea bled the ears of ancient cetaceans, most of all let the record show that the

diplomats were wearing perfume

and the stores were selling it

and the bosses were commissioning it

to block out the exhaust and the woodsmoke, hints of jasmine tinged with

refusal to look at the doomsday clock.

perfume on shelves, ads for endless consumption and ceaseless stupidity, still perfume,

wearing it while the people of the cities worked for high wages and paid higher rents, when the people of the

country turned to the hotlines in desperation –

what the newspapers will call “increased reliance on mental health crisis services” –

and what the teenagers will call

small town suicides. while their peers sprayed names in memoriam on the sides of too-empty water tanks the

diplomats will have sprayed their perfume. aerosols that do not scatter, not the CFCs jettisoned before we

were born but ones which

turn their head with wilful ignorance, turn the gas up higher, turn into the absorption of soot, dirty with the

ashes of an industrial

failure, and a crime of negligence. i know the duty, now. see its breach over the ocean gasping for air.

let the record show that the burnoffs were not enough. let the record show that no one listened to the oldest

cultures on the planet, when they pleaded to care for country. let the record show that indonesia moved their

capital and so did the billionaires, abandoning the people who made their oil fortunes with calloused hands

and long-distance families when the veins ran dry. let the record show that the banks and parties and

newspapers and supermarkets politely looked away and did not want to upset the stakeholders, let the record

show that the politicians dithered and had their gaze caught by shiny things of stronger short-term

significance, let the record show the diplomats had gorgeous suits and never picked up a hose and

wore perfume.

this poem will do nothing. the air is thick with heat and danger. it is not easy to do good in times of survival

and we are only going to have to

survive harder.

i walk through this city and want to crush it into the ground.

i walk through a throng and i am offered a perfume sample. the truth is drowning in an oilslick bottle and the

scent assaults everyone walking through the mall

pretending not to notice.

let the record show it was a 43% flash sale on (everything we still didn’t want), on

the smell of clean suits and money, of delusion and blind faith in capitalism, that your electric car will drive

you out of a maelstrom. the smell of pacifism and hope and desperate optimism so potent that it blocks the

former out. artificial and scented of fruit, green and cardboard, organic, humane, anything that will get the

dollars in the right place and the gas out of the ground. anything that will rip her veins open, then- the smell

of blood, iron and metallic, thick and spurting and unbearable, irredeemable, non-refundable.

let the record show the diplomats were wearing perfume of manufactured, sweet, strong, jasmine.

the only thing i want to smell on the wind again is

eucalyptus after rain.