Breakfast (And Other Things We Always Forget)
2017, High School, Poetry
I make bacon for breakfast.
Grease conspires in the corners of the pan, then bubbles and congeals.
It whispers secrets in between rivulets of melting fat.
I lick sticky fingers and poor the frothing oil down the sink.
The grease hisses as it clashes with cool metal,
Rejecting the embrace of the lingering condensation,
It slips down the drain like a shadow into fog.
I turn away and go back to the stove.
I don’t think about where it goes,
But I suppose it goes somewhere.
Exits the kitchen pipes at the third door on the left,
Takes the elevator down to the basement,
Conjoins with the flow of water coming from every other drain in the house.
I imagine it maps out a race track of rusted steel,
The grand prix of domestic plumbing.
I imagine a body meshed of metal and polyethylene,
Arteries pumping water and grease to a heart that stutters beneath my kitchen sink.
Eventually it finds it’s way out of the maze and coalesces with a much bigger system of pipes.
I used to drop paper boats into the sewer drain at the end of my street,
Watch them take on water and crumble without so much as an ‘save our souls’.
Paper widows on paper walkways watching for their missing paper sailors.
I always wondered where those paper boats went.
Maybe they met the bacon grease I poured down the sink.
I wonder if those papers sailors hit storms of cooking oil,
And sail past grease lined shores.
I once believed that every stream led to the ocean,
And that every pond led to a stream.
I pretended I could slip through sidewalk puddles,
And emerge in lily-pad lined lakes.
That every drop of water that rolled off windowsills and
Raced in rivulets down city street gutters
Ended up in the same place:
It was my kindergarten prerogative that every ocean and sea in the world,
Poured into the same basin: the same kitchen sink filtering an endless surge of salt water.
There was truth in these mistruths.
I grew older, but held onto that seed.
I shaded in my view of the world,
And came to know the shape of isthmuses; and began to hum the hymns of reefs.
I learned that countries lay littered like coins at the bottom of wishing wells,
A wall of earth that divided the oceans.
But you’d be surprised what is connected.
You’d be surprised how far things reach.
Your kitchen sink knows a guy who knows a guy,
Who has a cousin, who has a friend–
At some point, it all reaches the ocean.
The first time I saw the sea,
I thought the crest of the waves was writing me a love poem.
I compared it to a goddess,
Silent one minute, in quiet contemplation: the murmur of something holy on her breath.
The next a savage storm of violent swells: the call of mercy, mercy, but all she brings is ruin.
I loved the duplicity of the ocean.
Two faced like crocodile teared politicians, CEOS, and the majority of the populace
Who professed a love of Mother Nature, but were instigators to her suffering.
We didn’t use to be like this.
Our hearts once beat with the tide,
We had salt water in our veins;
Aortas stuttering out the crash of brine against the rocks.
We once spelled out love poems in sea foam, .
Before we played russian roulette with oil tankers,
And slit the throats of forgotten ocean deaties,
With ink black knives, like fossil fuel daggers.
The words ¨We don’t love you like we used to.”
Are increasingly violent.
Progress is a baseball bat, to be measured in broken windows.
Our world is more than seventy percent,
A promise we’ve forgotten.
There was a time when we didn’t pour bacon grease down the sink.
There are better places for bacon grease,
Than lying like a film over something that should be beautiful.
We often think of fuel pollution in the size of giants:
Massive spills that consume coastlines.
Nuclear bombs that tinge the water with copper colored casualties.
But of all the man made oil pollution that we inflict upon the ocean,
Only eight percent comes from spills 1 .
The rest is casual calamity.
From our hulking metal monsters with yellow nails and smokers lungs,
We are drivers of destruction.
Every single car is a leaky faucet, every truck and every boat an act of treason.
A constant stream of black gold on black top and black asphalt.
When the rain comes, it comes like a flood.
It picks up every drop of oil that runs in rivulets down city street gutters.
It picks up runoff from our farms and our factories.
It even picks up the grease we pour down our kitchen sinks.
And it carries it to the sea 2 .
Now we are paper sailors in storms of cooking oil,
We sail past grease lined shores.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
When you make bacon for breakfast.
Leave the grease in the pan.
2: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/pollution.html http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Types_of_Ocean_Pollution
Helplessness ultimately becomes a theme of my poem. I talk about ocean pollution “in the size of giants,” because that’s how I’ve always thought of it. Something terrible and unstoppable, and larger than life; something that only the rich and powerful perpetuated, something only they could stop. However, as I was writing my poem I realized that neither of those things was true. All of play a part in ocean pollution, in ways we don’t even think about. Yes, pouring cooking grease down the kitchen sink isn’t the end all be all of ocean pollution, but it a metaphor for the ways in which we hurt our planets without even realizing it. I wanted my poem to make people really think about their impact on the ocean. Because it’s not just the rich and the powerful who are responsible, it’s all of us. The message of my poem is each and every one of us has a role to play. We can all do something to stop ocean pollution. None of us has to feel helpless. So that’s how I ended it. With hope.