Sylvi Stein

Hunter College High School, ‘21    “I feel powerless when I read the news, when I hear what's being done to our planet. We children are the ones inheriting the earth, and Climate Speaks gave me an opportunity to take action when no one else did. The earth cannot defend itself against the horrors being inflicted upon it. It is our duty to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.”    Sylvi was born and raised in New York City. She has been writing poetry since fourth grade, due to the encouragement of her 4th grade teacher. The natural environment is her main source of inspiration, and she enjoys photography. An aspiring journalist, she hopes to work for National Geographic and travel the world with the hopes of revealing to others the ways in which the planet is worth protecting.

Hunter College High School, ‘21

“I feel powerless when I read the news, when I hear what's being done to our planet. We children are the ones inheriting the earth, and Climate Speaks gave me an opportunity to take action when no one else did. The earth cannot defend itself against the horrors being inflicted upon it. It is our duty to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.”

Sylvi was born and raised in New York City. She has been writing poetry since fourth grade, due to the encouragement of her 4th grade teacher. The natural environment is her main source of inspiration, and she enjoys photography. An aspiring journalist, she hopes to work for National Geographic and travel the world with the hopes of revealing to others the ways in which the planet is worth protecting.

The Great Barrier Reef Is Dead

This is what my mother says 

as she drops the groceries on the table.

This is what the TV says

on the eight o’clock news

(but not the six o’clock, nor the ten o’clock)


This is the sound of a scream

a statistic

a silence


Sorry tomorrow, sorry yesterday,

Sorry my children, grandchildren, my roots,

my branches, my buds, my fruit


Sorry little girl, dreaming of octopi and jellyfish,

sorry little sister. Sorry we did not try to swim

until we were drowning, and some of us not even then.

Sorry coral-bright cuttlefish, sorry dazzling pacific porpoises

sorry flickering underwater fireflies.

Sorry you shrank while we grew.

Sorry it ended this way. Sorry it did not have to.


Hope is a tiny, glowing thing that takes root

between anemones and art class

between happiness and the horizon

between the moment before you know and the moment after.

The Great Barrier Reef is dead.


I dreamt last night I could breathe underwater --

I tasted salt against my tongue, I kicked my feet and they were fins

I dreamed a vibrant world beneath the surface

the laughing seagrass kissed my toes

strands of pearls curled themselves in my hair

You are dreaming, they sang as I swam on

You are dreaming, the bubbles whispered against my skin

You are dreaming, sobbed the slow, endless tide.

You are dreaming. You are dreaming.

The Great Barrier Reef is dead.


In dreams, the ocean learns to speak

to tell us of tomorrow.


All look, but most do not see

you tug the noose that strangles me

but still the current sweeps us on.

The children know. I am not yet gone.