A nursery tale of the sea
Best of Regina winner of the Writing in the Margins contest
Human, human living above, your tankers
and ferries and outboards deafen us!
The whales cannot catch messages
sent out by their pod and become lost
and the sea lions cannot hear each other
speak, so loud the noises under the sea.
The porpoises have complained
they cannot listen to thoughts, let alone
register a single soul in need of transport
for the uproar!
Sea mammals, we are busy right now
inventing the fastest, most efficient machines and gadgets
in eternity. In time, we will fashion hearing aids to filter out
background noise for your beleaguered species.
Human, human, living alongside, your ways
encroach on our oceanside. Our crustaceans
clams and conchs and oysters and snails, just look –
Our shells eroded by acid residue in the air,
bloom in the waters: no longer
a star face, a purple skull face burned
onto my sister’s shell.
And my cousins, the star fishes,
their colours come out full of sorrow
and complaint, where once vibrant blue
or green, now bruise purple and magenta
they bleed. Just look how that one’s five
fingers bloat, and rot, and wander off?
Very interesting crustacean. What’s the matter
with a skull face? Very cool and Gothic, don’t
you think? Get with it, things change! Must be
your starfish have become expressionist painters.
We are busy with our industry and, really
haven’t time for complaint.
Humans, humans, all around
us, your careless ways and sloppiness
are getting us down. We, herons and sea gulls,
pelicans and terns, have eaten your bright plastics
mistaken for food: our windpipes choked by such
obdurate matter. And the fishes, too, have filled
their gullets with indigestible stuff.
Birds and fishes, that is a problem we acknowledge
but we are busy manufacturing
items to make life richer, and what else, when it
comes down to it, can we do
with the worn-out junk? Objects are made
and wear out and need to be replaced, and
we must continue this way. Truly, we
cannot afford to stop right now.
Humans, humans, don’t forget
we birds and fishes are survivors
from the dinosaurs, and it’s true
we were around with the great reptiles long before
you; when the birds die and the fish die
soon after will you.
(Hmm…there is a Sunday quietness
to the sea with just one diseased whale with sad, ulcerous eye
and her dead calf swirling around the tepid
teacup of brown water.
Hmm… there is a colourful mountain of it
I agree… garbage, I mean, rising Himalayan
like jewels under the sea.
Hmm…there is a sickness rising
in the orange-purple suicide air…
We must contemplate an elevator into space
or a shaft to the centre of the earth for all
that’s sick and rotten here, that’s it!
And send an astronaut or robot poly-toxic clad up
or down to deal with it.
But first this! A gadget to remember how
to make previous (prerequisite) equipment and gadgets
and artificial intelligent machines – there are so
many digits and codes, my mind
can no longer hold…)
This poem won the Best of Regina prize in our eighth annual Writing in the Margins contest. Briarpatch will be accepting entries for the ninth Writing in the Margins contest in September 2019. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) to this year’s contest.
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