The Ocean’s Lament

Image by Jenny Dodge

Let us return to the beginning, O Great Ocean

You have endured as much suffering

As a mother whose wayward offspring

Walk in disobedience, heads held high

You call in a voice carried as far as the winds

But no one hears your distress

Or witnesses the toxic tears

Prompted by the ships’ forever lingering crude oil

“My children, someone please help my dying children!”

You weep and gnash your teeth, writhing in agony

At the hideous spectacle of suffocating fish

Withering plants, and the overgrowth of algae

You fear that these dead zones will soon

Be the fate of your whole body


Let us return to the beginning, O Great Ocean

When your supply of oxygen, now lowered by sewage

Was sustainable for the creatures that resided within you

Before you were beset by fevers that cost the lives of your marine animals

Before villainous fiends

Crept into your vast beauty,

And degraded your reputation, forever injured

Debris clings to your hair

Now matted and tangled

Plastic, like a virus, never decomposes, but remains in your system

Lives offered up to preserve your majesty

These heroes are harassed by the vicious litter

Some bravely consume the plastic

And no one honors their valor by caring to prevent those sacrificial acts


Let us return to the beginning, O Great Ocean

To the goddess that you were

Assuredly, you deserve better than this

To be clothed in rays of sunlight,

Worshipped for the abundance of pleasures you hold

Instead, plants of the sea

Can no longer receive their daily doses of nutrients

Photosynthesis, halted

Naive birds

With heavy feathers

Sharks innocently beg to breathe

Humans, destructive progeny that we are,

greedily mine for copper and gold,

Purity for the taking


Let us return to the beginning, O Great Ocean

Before your illness stretched across the world

Runoff from rains,

unknowingly traveled to the other parts of your body

Litter, that had misplaced its compass

Freely meandered

farther than you wished it to

Your smaller children,

foolishly stuck chemicals in their mouths

And as the food chain goes,

were eaten by predators

that were bigger than they

Humans killed those diseased beings of the sea for food

And fell ill themselves


Let us return to the beginning, O Great Ocean

You cradle God’s tears

Holiness tainted by your unclean temple

Which is by no fault of your own

As a helpful daughter, I pick the specks of litter

That have made their way into your bounding main

Because I have not turned a blind eye

To your unusually dark depths

With oil bubbles floating at the top

To the pictures of sea lions being strangled by plastic lassos

Large black eyes wistfully questioning humanity’s intentions

Or to the unfamiliar, burning that persists in my throat

After accidentally drinking your toxic waters

While going for a swim


Let us return to the beginning, O Great Ocean

When you did not need the assistance of the EPA

Subjecting you to testing

With results that turned up in vain

Because blindfolds

were wound too tightly

I must remind you, O Powerful Sea

Not all of us will stand by

as observers at an unfair boxing match

Some, like myself, were just born too late

The damage was already done

However, my covenant to you

is to ferociously avert further harm inflicted upon you

Let me help you return to the beginning O, Great Ocean

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