2018, High School, Poetry
Life has many lenses.
The effects of time’s riptide
Aren’t just found in the ring of trees.
The health of the planet, of the ocean, of that salty life-water—
Bend down. Look at the seashells.
In them you will find similar whispers to that of the trees.
Similar records of what is changing.
Similar omens of the warming seas.
In our slowly choking ocean,
Witness can borne to its beauty still,
Amidst the seabird graveyards and sickening algae blooms,
The corpses of sea snails—we find these opulent,
Even though they are the equivalent of foreclosed houses.
Inscribed within their grooves are the traveling conditions of days gone by,
Of their acid sensitivities,
And more. Maybe more than humans can comprehend.
After all, we will only ever peer at the remnants,
Nacre, sometimes pearlesque remnants of what once was.
Live gastropods do not let us peek before their time is up.
(Which will be no more soon—
As they are swiftly dying,
Their soft bodies unable to adapt as we can.
Like all other animals crushed under our warming heal,
They are oblivious, unaware.
They will die en masse,
And we will collect their empty homes as usual,
Wondering one day
Why they’ve stopped washing ashore.
In those days, we will look to trash-filled waters for answers.
Waters so filled with trash
They will pull our hearts to yearn for the days of clean shelling again.)
…Can we save them? Can we change this?
I like to think we can,
But it will have to work at their pace,
It will have to crawl slog along the heat of time and oil,
Black smoke clogging the sky,
Capitalism burning at our lungs,
Straining everything it has to stop us.
After all, this disaster came from greed
It came from the abuse of natural gifts—
The sooner we admit this cycle can’t remain,
The sooner we realize mass consumption can’t sustain.
Capitalism has always been a lie,
It has always used and always abused.
It rips open and overfishes,
It destroys and devours and then spits out money for those at the top,
Who are immune to their own destruction and the suffering beneath their feet.
The ocean will always been its victim,
It will always be its target,
One of Gastropoda even has fallen prey—the queen conch.
It is prey not only to the maws of greed, of commercial overfishing,
Now its eggs are biting the dust
—Carbonic acid dust
From the ocean absorbing CO2,
Damning the eggs in the cradle,
Smothering the glorious future of a robust population.
These snails are worth more than their shells.
Their beauty lies
In their unmanufactured intricacies,
Crawling Fibonacci spirals,
Casted in calcium carbonate and keratin,
To push humanity a reminder
Of our past, present, future,
What we’ve become,
And who we should remember we’re fighting for.
We should treat the world like a conch shell
Beautiful, alive, tough.
But it can be run over by a car should we chose to do so,
Should we view it as an obstacle to our desires.
It will break under those tires.
It will break should we decide our selfishness
Our easy way of life,
Comes before the health of the earth.
The purpose of writing this poem is to bring light to three things: (1) The beauty of mollusks, often overlooked and underappreciated by the general public; (2) how their lives can be used as a marker to inform us about the health of the ocean and the effects of climate change; and (3) to highlight what I feel is a hard truth for many to accept in the fight against climate change: the destructiveness of mass consumption and capitalism. This mix was intentional. Beauty is often found in the midst of death and decay, and it is important to savor those moments and allow them to inspire us to keep going. It's my belief that humans need to appreciate the beauty of the queen conch and all the gastropods affected by climate change and allow them to move us in a fight for a better, cleaner world.