my dear unborn

waterfall Candice

My dearest darling sparkle in the dark night sky

I’m looking down on you tonight and I hope that you can feel my warmth. If it were safe for you to be allowed outside, I would send a gust of wind to ruffle your skirts and lift the pretty golden-red hair off the nape of your neck…. you get your colouring from your mother, you know. If you were outside perhaps I’d send a feather or a butterfly your way – to settle on your path and, just for a moment, you’d stop as you saw it, and perhaps, just for a second, your soul could speak to your mind and you’d think of me.

Were there still butterflies when you were born? I forget now. I think that the bees were gone by then and that the flowers were disappearing by the day.

Oh, my child, the flowers. I know you’ve seen the pictures, but I wish you could have smelt them and I wish that you could have held a soft pink blossom in your chubby little fingers on the first day of spring. I wish that on your wedding day you could carry a bouquet of fresh roses as I did… do you know that brides started carrying bouquets back in the middle ages to disguise their own bad body aroma? Back then, people only bathed a few times a year. Can you imagine? The water was fresh then, and cool and so very clean.

And oh, the oceans… I wish you had seen the dolphins and the whales, my love. I wish you could head down to the seaside on your holidays and spend hours staring at the blue and white waves, willing the sea life to come out and swim and jump and play in the surf. My child, they were magnificent and holy and they would take your breath away if you could see them now. I wish you could bury your father in the sand and build a castle with your mother. I wish you could waddle into the waves and I wish your parents could swing you by your arms into the salty water as mine swung me when I was your age.

I would do anything for you to be able to climb a tree outside in the sunlight and for you to feel the grass under your bare feet. Your grandmother spent hours of her youth hidden high up in a lemon tree, you know… watching the world go by as the scent of citrus made her heady with daydreams and the heavy light weight of a happy life. Do you know there were trees with trunks so big that you couldn’t put your arms all the way around them? They reached up high to the heavens and now they are all hidden below the water. I’m so thankful you can still see the sky and the sun and the stars and the moon, my child. It is perhaps the only thing natural left in your life, other than the blood that pumps through your veins.

Has your mother told you about the meadows? Has she told you about the mountains? About snowfall? About making snow angels? Has she told you about the African bush? About the cry of the Fish Eagle and the roar of a lion? Has she told you about the time we came across the pack of wild painted dogs and how they yipped and yapped and how beautiful they were? I worry that she is also forgetting now in this new world you live in. I know there are pictures of all these past things on the screens that surround you, but they are not the same as the scent of rain and dawn and freshly cut grass. Nothing on a screen can explain the way your heart thumps when your eyes lock eyes with that of a wild animal.

Oh, and the animals. I wish you had the pleasure of growing up with a furry best friend. I wish you knew the simple joy of having a happy little soul follow you about faithfully as you go about your day. I wish you could know the giggling pleasure of a dog’s delight in being let outside to run and play – come rain or shine. You all take things terribly seriously now in this new world without the gentle reminder from animals that life isn’t all up in your head and that sometimes, you just need to run and skip and laugh for the pure unbridled fun of it.

I am sorry that my people were selfish, my child.

I am sorry that we were greedy and put our own pleasure in front of your future.

I am sorry that we took everything for granted.

I am sorry that we threw away our rubbish with reckless abandon.

I am sorry that we did not take care of the water and the oceans.

I am sorry that we bred and ate and hunted and slaughtered all the animals until we made ourselves sick.

I am sorry that we made the planet sick too.

I am sorry that we believed that money and intelligence would save at least some of us.

I am sorry that all our tangible memories, our relics and our entire human history has been lost to the depths of a dead ocean.

I am sorry that we didn’t listen, even towards the end when we could start to see the signs.

I am sorry that we were too proud to change.

And most of all, I am sorry that we were too attached to our past and present to plan for your future.

At night in your dreams, I will come to you, my love. I will take your hand and we can walk through meadows of green grass and wildflowers; we will pick dandelions and blow fairies into the breeze and we will squeeze our eyes shut and wish for what could have been. I will take you to the depths of jungles and we will look up and see the birds singing in the canopies and we will breathe in deep the rusty scent of life breathing in the dark soil. I will take you to the mountain tops and we will sit on a rock, you and I. I will put my arm around you and we will look out over the land below us and you will know, all at once, how it feels to be both a real life giant and the smallest thing on the planet. I will walk with you down white sand beaches and we will stop to admire the beauty in an abandoned seashell. We will turn our faces to the sun and, pulling off our clothes, run laughing into the bracing sea. We will float on our backs and look up at the sky that you are looking up at now, my child, and we will know deep down that we are all connected – to the earth, to the ocean, to the skies, to the animals, to the fish and the birds and, most of all, to each other. We will know that we fiercely need to guard that connection with every fighting bit of every cell in our body.

I promise, sweet thing, I will come to you tonight and I will show you the world. She still exists. And maybe, just maybe, we can bring her back. Maybe, even after everything we have done to her, she will take us back and cradle us in her arms once again.

waterfall Candice Image by Jerome Duran, used with permission from Candice Swanepoel.


Posted in


  1. This is breathtaking. Haunting.
    I truly hope this is only ever fiction… I got to see Rhino out in the wild a month or so ago. I had a thought of wondering if my future babies would ever see a Rhino alive or if it would just be a picture and “mom’s photos.”
    So much to think about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.