Mark Aspen

Requiem

The Future Speaks

Requiem

by Simone de Almeida

an appreciation by Matthew Grierson

Though our attention is now rightly focused on one clear and present crisis, other global emergencies remain ongoing – and the poem Requiem by twelve-year-old Simone de Almeida, a prize-winner in Arts Richmond’s Young Writers competition, is a salutary reminder of the changing climate.

It’s a poem that contrasts big abstracts – ‘fragmentary quandaries’ – with urgent particulars – ‘ice melting’, but which still manages to turn an image of despair into one of hope with the suggestion of frozen hearts warming together. In the connection they make before ‘falling apart’, it even finds an unexpected resonance in the lockdown, when environmental activists are having to take to their keyboards rather than the streets to get their message out.

The grown-up world of ‘desires’, ‘promises’ and ‘smiles’ is seen through as ‘counterfeit’, and shown simply as a children’s pastime, ‘Hide and seek’. The narrator is therefore able to turn dismissive accusations back on the accuser, pithily responding with ‘We are the future/But you cannot perceive it yet’ in contrast to the clear-sightedness of the young.

She also demonstrates an eye for the paradoxes and hypocrisies of political cant, finding grim irony in ‘Losing sanity,/To find yourself’, and skewering talk of ‘The last time – / Though we’ve heard it countless times’. When the adults can’t tell you ‘we’ll be fine – / In the darkness of [their] silence’, the generation to come must have their say – as this poem does.

Matthew Grierson
April 2020

Photography by Joe Stockwell and Victor Walker

 

Requiem

by Simone de Almeida

On the edge of insanity-
Blind to the fragmentary quandaries,
Ice melting;
Yet we heat our frozen hearts-
Connected yet we fall apart.

Materialistic desires,
Empty promises and counterfeit smiles.
Hide and seek,
In the game of your lies.

Naïve, is that so?
Incompetent and inept?
We are the future-
But you cannot perceive it yet.

Losing sanity,
To find yourself.
As ever, disregard:
The history book on the shelf.

The last time –
Though we’ve heard it countless times.
Say we’ll be fine –
In the darkness of your silence.

Simone de Almeida