With her poem Ode to a home, Marloes van der Singel has won the writing competition organized by Leeuwarden UNESCO City of Literature and Arcadia for The Gaia Papers, an initiative of Exeter UNESCO City of Literature. In Exeter, The Gaia Papers is part of the Gaia program by artist Luke Jerram, which will hang in Exeter Cathedral in February. Gaia was on display in Friesland during the 100 days of Arcadia.

Ode to a home

This is the world
your father says
as he plants a small globe
in the palm of your hand
and you laugh
because you didn’t expect it
to be so tiny and beautiful

you write your address
ending with ‘planet earth, the universe’
somehow that part gets lost along the way
just like the little globe that you carried
colours, countries and whole continents
fading in your front pocket
until it vanished down a black hole

sizzling summer nights spent stargazing
sprawled out in the soft tall grass
of the blooming poppy fields
beds too hot to sleep in
you feel so small suddenly
so insignificant, like the mosquito
squished by a brush of your hand

this is the world
your father says
dolphins having to raise their voice
over man-made underwater noise
empty ski lifts hang
like forgotten birthday garlands
above grass-covered slopes
perennial snow now nonpersistent
where once was water the earth furrowed
land swallowed by glaciers melting
as fast as a popsicle
in the grubby hands of a two-year-old
how you wish you could hold your home
in the palm of your hand again
as a keepsake
and hear your father say
this is the world

Marloes van der Singel (1982) writes poetry on such topics as getting gills and losing what you love. Previous work has been published in various literary magazines and in a collection of science poems. Van der Singel has joined “de Klimaatdichters” (the Climate Change Poets) and teaches poetry in primary schools.

The Gaia Papers is a printed and digital magazine that will be published in Exeter at the end of February 2023. Alongside stories by local writers, audience photos and creative pieces by local youth, there will also be literary contributions from other cities of Literature. In so doing, Exeter City of Literature is collating worldwide perspectives on their theme of Care, Connection, and Celebration.

Foto Gaia: ThomasVaer fotografie