2019, Senior, Poetry & Spoken Word
in English, pteropod translates to
too small to press against your ear
and listen for the sea, though
they are remnants of a past
where armor was not yet needed
only translucent skin and calcium-glass shells
leaving the ocean’s heart visible for admirers.
in any language, she pleads
for a god that does not
crumble in our fires, choke on our ashes
because like any good mother, the ocean cannot carry
the smoky exhales of our mistakes
in her belly forever.
in chemistry, combustion implies
bright, spontaneous destruction
but no, there is a softer, quieter death
for the pteropods—
acid dissolving their homes, shells
cracked and cloudy as if the beach
was strewn with broken mirror shards
all the better to distort reality.
they have neither wings nor feet for escape—
are condemned to drift in perpetuity.
a fingertip on the pearly center of its shell
then trace the effects outwards:
to the fish, then seals, then whales
all linked in an unraveling web,
like a fisherman’s net.
There is no such thing
as a closed system in this world:
the same salt that swirls through the ocean
runs in our blood.
in French, seafood translates to
fruit of the sea:
imagine white napkins and silver knives
empty harvest and
teach your diners that
rare does not mean valuable,
it means loss.
generation of sand-footed children,
open their eyes and lift their voices
because these sea butterflies,
and earth of ours
are not capable of metamorphosis
A few months ago, I accidentally came across an article about pteropods, these tiny, beautiful, and almost ghost-like shellfish that were being severely damaged by ocean acidification. When I started to write, I focused on them in order to bring attention to how climate change impacts all the interconnected organisms in the world—including us as humans. As the poem progresses from describing the past and the current situation, it takes on a note of advocacy that urges future action, which I wanted to be the main takeaway of the poem. Having this opportunity has taught me the power my own voice in combatting climate change, which I had never really embraced before. I had always grown up accepting it as a fact, and I felt a close connection to the ocean after living in Boston my whole life, but I didn’t realize that I could inspire others, never mind that I could do so through an artistic medium I found so fulfilling. Going forward, I will continue to research and raise my voice in working towards a healthier green and blue planet.