:: Article

Dear Angelus Novus

By Susana Medina.

Dear Angelus Novus,

Thank you for looking out for me. It was a pleasure to gaze at you while you were at the lake of the critical condition with its bubbles, ripples, currents and patches of green floating bacteria, studying a drifting bottle on its surface, while musing about the existence of extraordinary persons, warts and all, who know why they are here.

You already knew they were here, you had spotted these humans before, protecting all forms of life on the planet, there are many, so many, but at that moment they came to the absolute foreground, like an extreme close-up of laborious ants building ideal cities, which once visited, remain unforgettable, making you know that every single act matters, that you matter, we matter.

You closed your eyes, and tuned into the warm impermanence of things organic. You were suddenly snatched away and propelled elsewhere. In this elsewhere, you felt as if you were orbiting around me in a space capsule and you distinctly heard my strange and eerie wail. You were bewildered to see millions of fragments from dumped satellites and rockets, orbiting the earth, promising collisions with new ones, spelling out trouble ahead. Amongst the space junk, you recognised orbiting past a flying aeroplane door, an astronaut’s glove, an ejector seat.

Puzzled, you lowered your head, and you were instantly stirred by how intensely blue I am.

You zoomed in, and found me breathtaking.

You were transfixed.

But when you zoomed in further, you were sickened to see plastic rivers, vast islands made of plastic poisoning ocean life, shrinking and vanishing glaciers, asymmetrical segments of broken ice floating adrift on the Artic sea, oil spills, and dead coral reefs. You saw my scars, and you saw post-apocalyptic ghost towns with their buildings in ruins, and vast flooded areas. You saw cities of despair and wildfires and drones and abstract patterned lines that happen to be trenches. As you got closer to my surface, you heard the screaming from all this suffering and chaos. You saw shoals of corpses. And you saw starving, homeless and displaced humans from all countries, and the bodies of all the extinct and endangered species.

You then heard thousands of wise children now screaming, now chanting, marching like laborious ants to claim their stolen future, and there were thousands of wise people all ages, and you wanted to be one of those children, and those yet to be born were also there.

You wept at all this beauty and horror.

You blinked, and I span day into night.

And you loved the night with its silence, and saw my shores brimming with bioluminescent phytoplankton that looked like a stunning starry night, and remembered the beauty of documentaries about luminous life forms on TV, and all the strange and wondrous fauna, flora, insects and minerals you have come across in your life. And you’ve always been in awe of the sheer diversity of it all. And you wanted to protect me. And you wanted to make better, to repair, to heal, to re-enchant the world. And you wanted to become a luminous life form. And when you landed back on me, you opened your eyes, and you knew why you are here, and once you knew, there was no unknowing.

Thank you once again.

Yours truly,
Planet Earth

‘Dear Angelus Novus’ was written as part of ‘Letters to the Earth,’ a Culture Declares Emergency project, and read at the International Extinction Rebellion (15th – 28th April) at Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus & Waterloo Bridge. It was first presented at Paddington Conservative Club (unrelated to the Conservative Party), on Friday 12th April, a ‘Letters to the Earth’ day of joint action across theatres, arts venues and community spaces nationwide.


Pictures by Derek Ogbourne. Video here.

Susana Medina is the author of Philosophical Toys, offspring of which are the short films Buñuel’s Philosophical Toys and Leather-Bound Stories (co-directed with Derek Ogbourne); Red Tales (bilingual ed. co-translated with Rosie Marteau); Poem 66 (bilingual ed. trans. R. Marteau, Good Morning Menagerie, 2018/the runner-up in their Translation Contest), and Souvenirs del Accidente (Germanía, 2004). She has been awarded the Max Aub Short Story International Prize and an ACE Writing Grant for Spinning Days of Night.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, April 25th, 2019.