In medias res

Alas poor child, you’re born
in medias res — the stage is set
with swirling depictions of a globe
in panic, small rainbow-colored frogs
hopping into oblivion,
a scene of smoggy atmospheres,
vast gyres of plastic churning
in the ocean, Scylla and Charybdis,
sailors screaming from their boats,
soldiers raising fists, battle-dressed
for costumed wars.

And you have got to figure out the script.
It’s that recurrent nightmare
of being unprepared, of never
having studied and now it’s curtain time.
That dream is just our human
situation — the only plot we’ve got
in this play without an author.
We’re writing it ourselves.

And I can’t help you. I am just
another figure in the chorus
of greying heads, wringing her hands
or pointing to a star.
Sorry to be useless, but that
is what we are.

Dear child of fortune, born today
into the middle of things,
break a leg. Don’t look for gods
descending in a basket,
or prompters in the wings.
Declaim one memorable soliloquy.
Turn a spotlight. Or pick up
pelting litter from the stage.
There is no ending, happy
or otherwise. Just play your part.

— by Alice Major, Welcome to the Anthropocene

Alice Major is Edmonton, Canada’s first poet laureate.