In AP Environmental Science, my best friend speaks
about sky & age & forests. Shows me a photograph on
her computer of a bird she chased for an hour before
finally getting close enough to touch or shoot or love.
Look, the photo’s too blurry, she tells me, points out the fuzz
around the edges of the bird’s wings. I think it’s beautiful,
I say, & she tells me to shut up, & this is our love language,
this is our ecosystem dreaming into being. Today we’re
learning about solid waste & it’s so easy to lose myself in
hopeless, hearing about trash compactors & landfill seepage
& all these methods of coming closer to the end, but the
teacher passes around a wallet made of Capri-Sun wrappers,
tells us how green taxes are becoming more effective & that
our school just installed new solar panels on the roof, &
everything feels a little quieter. We watch a documentary
about air pollution. My friend fusses over her photograph
& I want to say shh, I want to say it’s perfect, but instead I
crumple up the empty soda can on my desk, throw it into
the recycling bin & not the trash. Outside the window
it’s monsoon season. The sky relearns the language of
eutrophication. The rain sings over everything, divides us
into individual parts. The birds sleep like saints, soundless
& infinite, like they trust the storm will pass soon,
like they don’t realise how it has only just begun.

Topaz Winters was born in 1999, studies literature and film at Princeton University, and serves as the creative director at Half Mystic Press. She resides in Singapore and at