Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2020, Senior, Poetry & Spoken Word
Our forefathers passed on many tales and among the countless things,
They said “put a seashell to your ear, and you can hear the ocean sing.”
It’s zephyr, the wind, the gentle breeze lightly stroking her waves
as she hums her lovely music like a series of octaves.
When the waves draw back the ocean stones; 1 beat, 2… then toss,
the echo of the percussion sounds like drums within glass walls.
Then the sea-winds of the night start waltzing with the tides;
by the poise in her loud whistles, you know she doesn’t like to hide.
But my favorite part to hear of is the sound that follows after:
they say late when only darkness rules you hear the ocean’s laughter.
In fact, they say she laughs so hard she bounces up and down
that the sailors of the night dare not sleep so not to drown.
See, the irony we neglect is that there’s joy within her roars;
there’s the bliss her currents carry and there’s calmness in her storms.
And as the fish begin to swim in schools and the sharks devour their prey,
as the seagulls soar above the graceful dolphins in the bay,
as the kelp beds move synchronically as if swaying to her songs,
and the intoxicating tunes of humpback whales too play along;
after witnessing but a fragment of the life the ocean holds,
one would come to realize she’s like a planet on her own.
Now imagine what will become of her sweet music; oh, so blithesome!
As we steal from her her essence; oh… will mankind ever fathom?
Will we come to understand the destruction we bring forth?
What’s to become of her sweet laughter when we eradicate its source?
When we blindly grip our gear-shifts as her children gasp for air
and all the life she’d borne for eons is soon no longer there.
The noxious gases we emit to keep our cities on their feet
destroy the creatures of her reefs for all their habitats deplete.
The excess heat trapped in our earth is putting sea-life under stress
and we may soon drown under floods; ones we’ve begotten nonetheless.
Acidify her waters so its vital minerals are no more;
the majestic ocean we’d once hear of is now but wounded head to toe.
Our factories’ fumes are surplus to the point she cannot breathe…
this “climate thing” we fear on land is also causing her to bleed!
Been our buffer against global warming, hence, of heat we did not perish,
but her decades long of sacrifice, mankind can’t come to cherish.
For our poor ocean can’t endure affliction of this size…
Now when I put a seashell to my ear, I hear nothing but her cries.
The only sounds she makes today are just mirrors of her pain,
craving nothing more than to relive her glory days again.
Her teardrops just as salty as her sullen blue self;
suffocated not in silence but in a cruel world that plays deaf.
Don’t you see… damaging our climate is to kill our ocean too?
Don’t you see… as our earth gets hotter our ocean’s aching too?
Now laments fill her music and her waves no longer dance
as she drowns in deep melancholy thanks to these greedy human hands.
I can hear her calling out to me; she says “please don’t let them win,
for the state of my existence is the worst it’s ever been.
Let them redeem themselves of their benighted ways at last
for dear child, it’s up to you to alters mindsets of the past.”
That she may live in peace again, we must try at any cost;
to be restorers of her faith and harbingers of hope once lost.
So when our children join this earth, they too can have one thing:
that when they put seashells to their ears, they too hear the ocean sing.
I spent two years of my life by the ocean; that is when I fell in love with it. But how much of my generation is actually taught to view the ongoing issue of climate change as more than a negligible page in the Geography textbook? How many of us are aware that every time we leave our carbon footprint, we are becoming fractions of a "whole" entity that, in this case, is the begetting of our ocean’s impending doom? Notice that I’m not questioning our willingness or drive to become a part of the solution, but our awareness of the issue in the first place. The Millennial and Gen Z generations are the most outspoken, persistent, and solicitous generations by far, especially when it comes to addressing the natural, political, socioeconomic, and other issues that exist. That is what gives me hope. However, one cannot speak up for what one cannot see; I believe we were not made to see and recognize the substantiality of the effect of climate change on our oceans enough. Art may have been an accessory of the past, but it is the language of the youth today. That is why I wrote my poem in a way that others can not only see, but feel "her" (the ocean personified) pain as if it was their own. This experience of writing and advocating for necessary change has inspired me to further educate myself and to continue being a voice for the voiceless.