Writing to Change the World

I was 47 years old when I discovered Monhegan. I have spent three exquisite weeks there in late autumn for the last nine years. The ethos and integrity of that place and its people informed my thinking and deepened my voice. This essay reflects some of what Monhegan has taught me.

From Mary Pipher’s book


response to the prompt:

What would you do first, if you were the ruler of the world?

If I, a 64 year old American woman,
were the ruler of the world,
the first thing I would do
is apologize.

On behalf of what is said to be
the most advanced civilization
that has ever lived,
I would apologize for
what we have done
to our mother earth.
I would beg forgiveness
of polluted waterways,
of denuded forests.
I would seek out
ghosts of extinct species
to say I’m sorry.

My tears would drip
on melting polar ice caps.
I would ask absolution
from the gods
for the horrors and wars
executed in their names.
I would weep
at the feet
of the Statue of Liberty
for blessings
we have squandered,
for the creeds
we have mocked.

I would ban
all nuclear weapons,
land mines, smart bombs.
The world would live
under the strictest gun control
ever known.
Artists, scientists,
teachers, care givers
and the elderly
would be revered.
The concept of celebrity
would die
of natural causes.

My first speech
would be to children.
My second
to their mothers.
I would tap the world for great women.
I would poke
and prod
the latent leaders.
Those whose anger
led to depression
instead of action.
I would stir
the exhausted marchers,
the rejected poets,
the priestesses
denied their pulpits.
There would be
a disproportionate number
of women
from third world countries
in my circle.

If I ruled the world
our mission would be
to reseed the planet
and the minds of its people.
Children would be
our witnesses.
would replace
heedless consumption..
Compassion would replace
indifference, ignorance.
Spirituality would rule
over fanaticism and zealotry.
And when the seeds
of our work sprouted, t
he harvest would be
distributed equitably.
And at every feast
and festival
poetry would be read.

Geraldine Wittekind
June 9, 2007
Revised July 4, 2009