Bala Cynwyd, PA
2019, Middle School, Poetry
i. atlantic salmon
i pluck the yellow flesh off their fragile bones to build an altar,
pray until they come back from the dead.
i pick up silvery scales like sapphires,
one day they’ll be prized treasures, prudently protected in display cases,
a reminder of what was lost.
we use black blades of heat & acidity, displace them from their freshwater homes,
invade their habitat and make them strangers to their own lands.
i draw the snowflakes that no longer fall on the riverbanks
the streams too full, creeks too fast, fish eggs too dead.
the murky water devours my drawing before i can finish.
they are declining, dying, crying out with their lives that climate change is coming.
every death becomes less pungent, we get better at pretending.
we take ocean acidification & snap photos for the world through a kaleidoscope,
distort the words & images, tell everyone how pH is stable.
and it is. just like political climate, it is consistent. consistently bad.
i need to unveil the government’s lies through the haze of the algae bloom.
if this is what is now, what does the future bring? change has to start with us.
or we can use the fossil fuel smog as a mask & write regulations
in the slick of crude oil, seal them with splatters of juvenile salmon.
by the time change comes, the problem will keep compounding, too late.
When I first started looking into how climate change has affected marine life, I came across a chart from NOAA Fisheries. It showed how climate change affects different species. At the very top, with “very high” biological sensitivity and “very high” climate exposure, was salmo salar, or the Atlantic salmon. I was horrified how the lowest climate exposure was “high.” What’s most concerning is that NOAA is a government organization (which was made painfully clear to me when I could not access the site during the shutdown in January). The government knows all of this, yet does not take action. It often feels like no one cares about climate change, and the ones who do care are oppressed, particularly the weak, the poor, or otherwise in no position of power. It’s easy for those that gain from large corporations (normally, but not always, old, white men) to convince themselves that the problem isn’t real so they don’t have to live with a guilty conscience. I don’t think that they (the government, particularly President Trump) have malicious intent, rather their inaction leads to bad consequences. When President Trump signs bills that continue to hurt the ocean, like I write in my poem, it’s as if he seals them with the splatters of juvenile salmon. Through my poem, I tried to show how what we are doing now devastates Atlantic salmon, as an example of all marine life, and contrast that with what the future could look like.