Ellicott City, MD
2017, High School, Poetry
There is a floating whisper
Coming from a mother whose arms
Encourage in the low tide
And revive in the high
Whose nurture still lingers
Under our skin, our bones
To ancestors gone back to salt in the sea
Whose pleas like the cries of seabirds
Carrying low across the land
We cast away with abandon.
It comes from an abyssal place
Where no man or his instruments can touch
It shakes the ocean bed, it rustles the sheets,
It has proof of the monster underneath
But we don’t check the closet.
We don’t check under the bed.
We pacify, we leave, we forget.
We pretend to have shells up to our ears
To hear the waves on the shore
But we never hear her, do we.
She tries to give us more than a murmur
But how much hope can be found
Under a vortex of plastic wrap
Over your heart
And how much oxygen is left in
The dead zone of your lungs
When you are on a noose
Slick and tight at the same time
And your hands are bound
With plastic rings and tangled nets?
How can you scream to your saviors –
The ones who let waters run from poisoned fields
Into your rivers,
Who dig into you and leave
Greasy darkness just as empty
As the promises we were to keep,
Who throw bottles and bags
Enjoying the reckless laughter,
Ignoring the resigned retches
How can you scream to archenemies that
You gave life to?
She can only call out so loudly
While the gulls who circle her neck
Start wearing straitjackets of jet black
Past her coral earrings
Bleached as white
As the plastic rings
The seals at her waist
Bought as necklaces but wear like chokers
Past the relentless sounds of drills
That ring in a dolphin’s ears
Losing their food, their mates, their lives
Past the pelicans, who mourn
The childhood toy belonging
To a boy in Japan
and a bottle cap from
A girl in California
Lodged in its stomach
Because they were oh so tantalizingly red
Just like its dinner.
Past the algae at her waist
Growing into a sickly green skirt
Suffocating the creatures
That curve around her knees
Past your suddenly deaf ears
Into your hands.
Can you look into the eyes
Of a bird without flight
that you made, and say
the guilt does not quake in your chest?
The remorse does not build tsunamis in your eyes?
And yet, only a mother
Can reach out a wrinkled, greying hand
And let you turn it back into blue.
Only you can pluck her whisper
And make it a shout.
Only you can share the words
She sends like lilies on a pond
Only you can run brushes
Through her oily hair
To let it flow clean in the current
Only you can wipe salty tears
From clouded, closing eyes
To make them reflective of her smile again
Only you can wash her seagulls
And hem her skirts
Only we can stop ourselves.
For we are all thalassic –
We come from the sea,
We go to the sea, for
The sea gave us life.
It is only right
We let the sea live.
“Marine Pollution.” National Geographic, ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/explore/pristine-seas/critical-issues-marine-pollution/.
“Oil Spills: Impact on the Ocean.” Water Encyclopedia, Advameg Inc., www.waterencyclopedia.com/Oc-Po/Oil-Spills-Impact-on-the-Ocean.html.
Rinkesh. “What Is Ocean Pollution?” Conserve Energy Future, www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-and-effects-of-ocean-pollution.php.
As humans, we tend to be rather self-centered. In order to change that, I tried to highlight the innate connection to the ocean and water as a whole that we as mankind have as the source of all life. In showing that connection, I wanted to make humans closer to the state of the ocean, not treating it as something detached from our existence, but something necessary for it, so we feel its effects more acutely. I also tried to personify the ocean so as to treat it as one would a hurting person. I find that sometimes we forget that even though the ocean is a vast, powerful, ancient being, it is also just as dependent on us for its well-being. I believe treating it like a person allows us to empathize with the struggle it is going through. Additionally, I personified it as a benevolent mother, not only because it gave us life, but because we should treat it with the same reverence and respect. Oceanic pollution is killing this planet and killing the ocean, and we are not only contributing the problem - we are the problem. My wish is to have someone see the roaring wave inside themselves - and use it to save the Earth’s waters.