Sunday, July 22, 2012

At where we meet the sea


A Beach Cleanup

Against a backdrop of ships and cruise-liners
and a horizon of grey blue reflecting a cloudy
grey sky as far as the eyes can scan,

we are here to clean this stretch of coast.

We grabbed black trash-bags and disperse,
each finding a spot of beach to pick up
what the tide has washed up.

Start with the big pieces --
the rubber tire took 3 boys
to put on its side, and roll.

Drift wood next, parts of boats --
ropes, a tangle of wires
seed weed entwined.
We freed them after much struggle
and gave up on many.

The aftermath of deck parties
-- paper plates, plastic cups
broken wine and beer bottles,
picked up with care, one by one
deposited into styrofoam boxes
that had floated up to the beach.

And then to the smaller things --

bits of plastic, aluminum cans,
alphabet fridge magnets,
vowels missing except for "U",
not my favorite letter in scrabble too.

Not all parts of the beach are tainted by wastes,
some parts seemed untouched, natural --

        wet sands pock marked with holes
        filled with little crabs, brown and
        red armored spiders with tiny claws
                                           scamper away
        as a giant approaches at the entrance
        where small piles of sand are deposited,
        and stare wondering how deep they go
        -- each a personal sanctuary, away
        from sun and skinny-legged sea birds;

        at her feet, a multitude of spiral shells
        of the belitong and chut-chut, all alive
        and lying placid on this clean spot of beach.
        This intruder suddenly aware of the devastation
        she wrecks
        with each step, quickly and with larger steps,

Day's end approaches and we gather the bags
and close them up with cable ties,
then line ourselves up forming a human-chain
conveyer belt, hand to hand, smile for smile
transporting bags of trash away from the beach
and onto a garbage truck waiting by the highway.

We breathed in the fresh sea air one last time,
said our goodbyes and left the beach to the tides.


Posted for dVerse Poetics, a prompt on process. It's dVerse Pub's 1st Anniversary celebrations week. Check out the link, and also the reading of Friedrich Schiller's The Song of the Bell by dVerse regulars.


Claudia said...

very cool on cleaning up the beach as a collaborative team effort...maybe we should think about doing something like this in the pub next time instead of a collaborative reading...makes a all the little touches as well..the spiders, little crabs, shells..yearning to go to the beach...

kaykuala said...

"We breathed in the fresh sea air one last time,
said our goodbyes and left the beach to the tides"

If only we can have a sigh of relieve every time we leave the beach! It must have been fun when 'many hands are together' with a noble purpose. You've recorded all these in fine details. Great write, Raven!


lucychili said...

a gentle poem
wonderful to be saving the beach

Grandmother said...

A poem about this simple, important job- YES!

Wolfsrosebud said...

guess there's a beach theme going on... I liked the comparison... with and without man's finger print

Daydreamertoo said...

It's wonderful that people take the time to do these clean ups, but, isn't it a sad state of affairs that you even have to? That we humans have become such a throw away society, so many don't care about the environment at all. I applaud the clean up but hate the reason for 'why' it has to be done. I love how you love nature and felt guilty for stepping onto the little beach dwellers homes so, gently retreated. :) You sound like me in that way.
Very moving, and image filled write.

Heaven said...

I like the details of the garbage cleaning up, vis-a-vis the life and beauty of the sea. I specially like that part of the little crabs and spiral shells ~

The ending was a breath of fresh sea air ~

nene said...

Raven, you did good here. A voice for all those hands who do this quietly without attention. Why they do it we can only speculate. Maybe for themselves, maybe for altruism sake, maybe out of human responsibility to the children and their children inheriting the natural beauty of the earthen face.

For whatever reason, Raven, you did them good.

Gracias, mi amigo

Mary said...

Ah, you wrote the experience in wonderful detail. These crews of people are undoubtedly not even thought about by those who enjoy the CLEAN beach. Thank you for doing YOUR part.

Brian Miller said...

great capture and a worthy cause as much in our world to be cleaned up as so many are careless just letting their waste go with no does make a difference...great imagery throughout....

Anonymous said...

This is a terrific subject for a poem (and activity) and so very well done. Really you convey the sea and the waste and the sad combination, but one feels a bit refreshd by the end, like the beach itself. Cared for. k.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Clear description of an honest days work

Susan said...

What a wonderful topic, powerfully treated!

"vowels missing except for "U",
not my favorite letter in scrabble too." is the first personal detail that made me grin in a pile of junk and not-junk. How I cringed when the drift wood and wooden parts were put in the green bags.

You make perfectly clear two things outsiders to clean-up days don't realize: (1) the day of working together to solve a problem is a day of like-mindedness and barrier-crossing in community--very good for lonely people as well as people who feel refreshed by giving back, and (2) this is an outing--a day of intimate exploration of an environment new to you or already loved. And never mind outside gratitude, every vein and muscle says yes; this is fun. And you'll go back for more.

chazinator said...

I know what you mean about the dross that the tides bring in. As a long-time beach comber, I want to thank you and your gang for doing this work. It's good to know that people still care enough to try to keep the beaches pristine. The way that you juxtapose the beach with garbage and the clean beach is very effectively poetically. The tone of that part if lovely for its peacefulness and detailed description of sea life and ocean motion. Excellent stuff!

Anonymous said...

I like how you move from the clearing of trash to the life that makes its home on the beach and your observation of how just walking on the beach may bring disturbance...very mindful. Enjoyed this very much.

Ravenblack said...

Thanks for all the comments and feedback, everybody. :)

It was a fun experience and I will do it in a heartbeat whenever they call for volunteers. And also yes, it was a mindfulness practice, and it's great how everyone worked together for a common cause. No one knew anyone at the beginning, at the end of it, we were all friendly and happy.

The stretch of beach we cleaned up was not a public beach but one that is more part of a reserve. This one's for the shelled creatures and crabs, and birds. :)

Fred Rutherford said...

This is great Raven. Love the way you described this. Such a thing always aggravates me, as why in the world do people feel the need to toss around their trash and crap all over the beach, sure some wood appears here and there, but the other stuff, what a waste of air. And while it certainly was not your's or any other persons responsibility to take action, it's sad that the violators themselves wouldn't do it, so it's very admirable to all those that take the time to help out. But been in a pessimistic mood lately, and I can't help but think that despite all the admirable actions of cleaning up, will probably just fall victim to another idiot tossing their crap where it has no business being.

The thing that bugs me the most though, is how these litterbugs don't even take into consideration, or at least I hope they don't, that their trash, if it gets into the water, can cause major problems for the fish and marine life, senseless crimes.

I knew a guy and his wife way back ago, and they went to help clean up for the exxon spill when that happened and they had all sorts of photos, what a sad scene that was, obviously a different set of circumstances, but still, the pictures of those birds, fish and other animals, really sits with me still today.

And again, your illustration and detailing here is done extremely well. And I love it when someone writes something that strikes a reflection or opinion in me, really did a great job here. Thanks

Ravenblack said...

Thanks Fred.

Without a doubt, the next day, there'll be rubbish again. We know it makes a very small impact -- it's never gonna stay clean. But the event had a little bit of publicity in the newspaper and on the evening news because it was World Ocean's Day, so maybe a few people become more aware.

I feel the way you do about the damaged caused to wildlife by the things people dump into the sea. It's awful.

Tigerbrite said...

What a wonderful job you did.
It's funny how cetain places seem to gether things, probably something to do with the wind and tide. I think people are more careful now about dropping things in the sea. But deck parties will have their plastic and the wind takes it away. We should be more careful and use paper that will rot down.
I used to love beach combing as a child finding the little shells and pebbles molded by the sea.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

What a cool thing to do, and what a great way to describe it!

Ravenblack said...

Thank you, Tigerbrite and Madeleine.

I think in my parents' day they would go picking beautiful seashells on the beach. I have a vague memory of looking for seashells, and finding very few. Presently I don't think any such thing can be found on the regular beach -- too many people, too much of other things. Our waters are too busy, so it's just not clean.

Raven said...

I just left a beach ... nearly pristine. I remember too a secluded beach in Mexico that looked just like this. Cruise ships ... just Garbage Tankers. I wouldn't get on one.

Good poem, good deed Ravenblack! Good to read you you too.

Ravenblack said...

Hello Raven! It's good to see you. :)