Last week Our Daily Planet had a chance to meet some of the remarkable young activists of Sea Youth Rise Up as they gathered in Washington D.C. to bring awareness to ocean conservation issues impacting both their local communities and communities around the globe. Akhila Bandlora, one of the 2019 delegates, wrote the following poem to present during her trip to Washington and we thought it captured so poignantly the essence of the youth environmental movement that our world is currently witnessing. We hope you’re moved by her words as much as we were.
the girl with sea foam fingers writes letters
on napkins left on beaches like loose change,
words stumbling down staircases of five-seven-five haikus:
i want an ocean,
the one mama whispers of,
when she eats, sleeps, prays.
she ties them to the webbed foot of a seagull, and sends it off to the governor:
“we are the tide and we are coming.”
he laughs and the girl watches him corrode:
shoo the seagull, lull it to sleep with plastic wrappers and bottles, throw the napkins away to land up exactly where the girl found it, and dips his pen into the seagull’s carcass to sign a bill
for a factory to dump their industrial waste into the ocean
— the ocean, a man made trashcan.
But, The girl’s eyes are seismic; the world shifts.
the year oysters pearl, fish jump, and crabs claw;
the girl trades her haikus for ballads, her flat chest
for fruit cup breasts, their apathy for her unrest
the sailors; they call her a woman.
she gargles the sea in her mouth to remember why she’s fighting,
pulls trash left on beaches and from washed up animal carnage,
dumps it on the governor’s desk–
“the tide is here; we are here.”–
chants reduce, reuse, and recycle outside the homes of oil-guzzling men,
she leaks into classrooms, and salt water ferments the walls,
teaches her children how to protect;
the world watches her,
until its eyes cataract,
and ears burst.
And finally, it listens–
births the Marine Mammal Protection Act,
MPRSA, the ocean dumping act,
holds the UN Convention on the law of the sea–
All promises to defend.
whistles to the whoosh of the waves,
and shows her children how to protest;
The fight is far from over.