jacque cousteau’s clamshell

hurry
hurry
run
no, drive
no, fly
we need to go
we need to get to—

and then you’ll have your last breath
leave behind your children, grandchildren to sit in your refuse
as their mitochondria imbibe plastic
become a new (partially) synthetic species

there is always a genocide going on
this time we are wiping out our entire species
our entire selves
each time, the response is:
it was not mine
I did not have time
I had to hurry
hurry
hurry
to get to

we think we have direction
we think we have autonomy
unless it’s responsibility and then we are
slaves—too pressured to choose
whose slaves
theirs or our own desires
unwilling to sacrifice convenience

I need the take-out
I need the bag
I can’t bring my own
I would have to think
ahead
go without
feel punished

grandma, did you ever scuba dive
yes
did you ever see a reef
yes
what was it like
colorful
vibrant
like in the books and videos
yes
will I get to see that
how did it get like this
we didn’t stop it soon enough
why
(pause)
we thought we had more time
we were busy
with what
with
with
with
people are always busy with something

you follow them
those men who think they can overcome anything
but they are just building a steel sepulcher beneath the dead earth
there will be nothing left to look at
(except lifeless women clad in scanty fake leather)
but you are not a monster and you don’t breathe underground
they have fangs
live on blood of their own kind

the giant sea turtle with
plastic bottles tangled in seaweed tied to her toes
she flips, flaps, tries to dislodge it
but it won’t move
besides there’s only ever
more where it came from
you tell yourself you don’t care because
you were never going to see the
Great Barrier Reef anyway

life in color will vanish into YouTube videos we’ll tell our children to watch
this is what the world looked like before we all had to
breathe Delhi air
ride on a boat through plastic instead of fish
travel north
no farther north
to find a thin blanket of snow at Christmastime
we can’t have trees anymore
we cut them all
but you can look at a picture

grandma, is this a real
clamshell
no
just a piece of plastic
that opens and closes like a clamshell
it was used for holding things
like what
food
then why did someone throw it out
it was usually only used once
once
yes
then what
then it was tossed
here
how many
(silence. head shake.)
why
your mouth will open, jaw dropping
the words, useless, you close it again
open
close
open
gape
she’ll giggle
you look like a fish
or at least the videos I’ve seen of fish
and then she’ll return to hunting through the garbage piled on the beach
searching through seaweed-wreathed plastic—
the only human thing left to do:
look for treasure

I’m sorry we didn’t prevent this
we were busy
we were trying to
we were going to
it was important that
2018-01-01T12:49:44+00:00