2021, Junior, Poetry & Spoken Word
I gaze over sandy beaches, where grainy silt twists beneath me,
As waves brought from distant shores crash just out of reach, like old memories.
Five years ago,
The bottle clinked on the rocky shore, pushed by the water
Before I grasped at it, fumbling with the stained glass,
*pop* of the cork, as the paper unfolded.
It read: “I’ve come from coasts away,
Where my tribe’s huts dot the coastline
But each night, the water comes closer
Washing away those closest to the shore
The waves crash harder against our bare straws
And we run from the rising water.”
Two years ago,
The bottle crashed on the rocky shore, shoved by the water
And I grasped at it, the glass covered in salt,
*pop* of the cork, as the paper rolled out.
It read: “I come from the coastal city of millions
Where every year, monsoons patter against our heads
But now, rainfall floods city streets,
Floating cars between drowning people
The sea pouring above our walls, we climb higher
And we flee from our rising water.”
The bottle breaks on the rocky shore, ravaged by the water
I grasp at it, the shards staining my hands with sand and red,
*pop* of the cork, as the paper springs forth.
It read: “I come from the inland town
Where our buildings and bricks are torn by cyclones
Unpredictable and fierce, their winds destroy us
While the hurricane downpours into homes
So, we cower in our shelters
And we hide from our rising water.”
Now I piece my bottle back together, cramming the wrinkled paper into it.
Ink scribbled back onto it, addressed to distant shores
*pop* of the cork, as I seal its contents.
I wrote: “I read your stories as I sit by my coast,
While the water is fiercer and closer each day.
I promise that I hear you, the world hears you, the waves hear you
Our climate strikes, our policies, our taxed air,
The broken glass of your messages has only set your voice free
And you will no longer have to run from our rising water.”
While researching the topic of water rising, I was reminded that despite living so far away from one another, the one thing that connects us all is the ocean. Similarly, the effects of rising water are felt no matter the location, inland or coastal. I also learned that these effects have been felt for over 20 years, but despite the obvious effects, it is as if our messages are not being heard. Our sea levels are only rising higher, our seas getting more turbulent. Through this poem, I wanted to depict these messages finally being read, shared through bottled messages carried by the ocean, reminding those affected that they are heard, and that we have a connection through the water that has also pushed us apart. With each stanza, the water gets fiercer, the bottles washing up on the shore harder, to remind us of the urgency with which we must act—that it is imperative that we fully accept the effects before it’s too late. So often we highlight the effects that climate change has had on wildlife, but our own population is also impacted by the water. By protecting our oceans, we will be able to protect one another as well, as it is one thing we all are linked through.