A long, long time ago, before time existed A bearded man named Atala Dug his fingers into the earth And rolled it into a sphere He then pushed his thumb into its center And shaped it into the first clay bowl He spun it around and chuckled Why, I could store anything I want in here, he said Hey! Aure! Come and see! He hollered A young un-bearded man Bounded up the chartreuse hills His long hair flowing a little passed his shoulders He poked the bowl and made a little indentation Ah no touch! Cried Atala, I think it has to dry a bit Aure nodded. Very well, there is time. So they placed it on a rock Under the laughing yellow sun, The color of buttercups They sat together by their wooden abodes Under an olive tree as the sun kissed the horizon Tomorrow, we are going to tell the world! Exclaimed Aure to Atala. Patience, Aure, Atala replied. I will yawned Aure, Good things shouldn’t be rushed The next day, Aure called his friend. Piera! Come look! A woman with long-straight hickory brown hair Came up and grazed her finger Along the side of the bowl I call it a clay bowl, said Atala Piera squinted at it as she made A light scratching noise along the surface We should paint these, she noted Also, you may be able to make more with The presence of fire. This is incredible! We should make more! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, argued Aure As I have learned from Atala, Good things should not be rushed. Together, the three brought the bowl To the heart of the community. Under a glistening sun, they raised the bowl up Towards the sky. Everyone crowded around it And begged to hold it as well. People jostled and grumbled for a turn to hold it. Eventually, Atala and Aure took it in their palms And lay it to rest in the center. The community dispersed, and Atala, Aure, and Piera Argued about where they shall lay to rest. Aure and Piera eventually decided to sleep under The cherry blossom tree, because it was more Exciting. Atala left them, defeatedly, and returned To the olive tree. When he got there, he rested with a humph As the sun too, plopped its behind on the horizon Atala plucked an olive and murmured, Everyone cares about an olive’s outside But often forget about one’s inside As he held the pit in his hand and lightly Scored the ground. He placed the seed down and Swept the soil gingerly over it. What will come of the younglings, What world will I leave behind? He thought. This new tree may be among the only things I leave behind, but if it feeds a hundred people, Would my life be truly meaningless? He fell asleep shortly after. The following days, Atala watched the sky burn, As people burned logs to fire more clay items. This is terrible! He thought, As he watched people shout at each other… Hurry Up! The people pulled nuts and leaves off of trees And began using them as “currency”. Commerce was no longer enough, he thought. Chemicals were mixed up to make paints. Everything changed that day. He felt like the only Man to plant the olive in the ground, alone. Only a few people sleep under olive trees, and He was one of the last of his kind. His idea, remodeled, but not improved His dreams are now nightmares. He was awoken from his trance by a young girl, Named Chari. In tears he spoke, Chari, take care of this world when I’m gone, Keep the good. Make this world last. Chari listened and nodded, with a surprising Amount of understanding. I will try, she agreed. Atala sighed and lay down to rest one more time the next day, under a blooming fig tree.
Time flew by. Days and nights seemed to move more and more erratically. The people changed and manipulated earth’s materials, making concrete, plastic, and other complex materials. Earth was dug up to give way to deforestation, mining, and human estates. People wanted everything, hungrily grabbing at the newest items to own and chasing happiness, time, and fulfillment everywhere they trod. Fire started everywhere, and Atala’s descendants and Chari’s descendants watched as the sky burned red once more. So much earth was dug up from under the people that it choked up the trees and wildlife. There soon became very little room for them at all as humans hungrily expanded.
You can’t eat money. You can’t drink fame. You can’t find shelter under a pile of stuff. You can’t sleep on top of concrete land. This is what Chari’s descendant daughter, Oliva, pondered as she gazed out her window. Too many people… silent while the world is burning. She stood by the window for 2 hours, Overlooking the people as they tear things apart instead of pulling themselves together. They’re searching the world for happiness, when it really comes from the inside. She walked outside and sat under one of the world’s last willow trees. She glanced at an outdoor painted clay pot. The pot was filled with whistling hills and a large assortment of wild animals. Hopping rabbits. Prancing deer. Flapping birds. Engravings of sweeping vines swivel around half of the pot. The imperfections of cracks were filled with gold like Kintsugi. On the other side, it featured gaping fish and bustling aquatic life. She peered out at the concrete jungle. Swarms of people buzzing. Pigeons pecking. Songbirds shoving themselves into city crevices. The heat licked her arms evasively, and she stepped back from the window. Atala and Chari’s spirits sat by a nearby dry riverbed crying, under a fig tree in the distance. She sat down on the house’s leather chair and sighed, staring towards the window. Little did we know that we had everything, and now we have destroyed it, she lamented. She thought for a moment as time passed mercilessly around her. We must simplify the complex. Inactivity is as deadly as reactivity. People must take action of their lives before their inaction takes action of their lives. Time is meaningless until you make it meaningful. Her hands gravitated towards the pot, and she raised it up above her head. The sun shone on it. Making this world a good place for all will take time, but good comes to those who wait. And if I am granted enough life to see that day, I will remember that good things should not be rushed. But for now, I’ll be waiting for you, world. I’ll be waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. And Waiting. Until I can convince enough people to fight for you. Until we make this world safe enough, for all to live. Plant all our olives so they may grow into something bigger. And we can build a world where those olive pits can grow happily, without corruption and destruction. For now I don’t know how much longer I can wait, because time now spins, and I can’t act and change humanity alone. Before my time is up. Before our time is up.
Maddie is a Senior Literary Artist at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. My major interests are: writing, science, and music with minor interests in visual art, culinary arts, gardening, and animal-keeping. My home district is in Durham Township.
- SLV 2023 Table of Contents
- Voices of the Valley – Alphabetic List of Authors
- Sustainable Lehigh Valley booklet