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Oil Spill on Beach 50.jpg

The Spill


Brenda Finnegan

Brenda Brown Finnegan, of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. She writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. As the Mississippi Poetry Society’s 2001 Poet of the Year, her poetry chapbook, “Missing Persons,” was published by MPS. After losing their beach-front home to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she and her husband now reside “up in the woods” on the outskirts of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. She is the proud mother of three and grandmother of six.

Almost three months later, British Petroleum

cautiously says they have capped the leak.

Local comments range from “We’ll see,” to

“We’ve heard that before, and they were wrong.”


We hold our collective breaths:

commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen,

boaters, owners of beachfront property,

lovers of seafood and beach sunsets.


Shrimpers in white rubber boots

who have not hired out as

“vessels of opportunity”

to help man the orange booms or monitor

the waters in the warm Gulf,

sit on their nets, or in bars, wondering how

they will face their hurting wives

and unpaid bills at home.


Chefs have become creative with

what seafood they can get, and

restaurant owners wonder if they

will make payroll one more month.


Beach vendors watch for customers

to rent umbrellas, buy snow balls.

Few come.


Most of us “small people” as the

BP chairman called us, had never heard of

Deepwater Horizon three months ago;

didn’t know how deep BP was drilling

off our coast, were unaware they were

critically inexperienced with disasters like the one

that hit us small people in the face,

sliming our beaches with tar balls.

We read of crab larvae with flecks of oil inside,

see photos of dead pelicans, sea turtles.


We drive down to the beach and watch the booms

that float across the mouths to the bays, marshes,

bayous and harbors, little or no protection

for the millions of gallons of oil already spilled.


Katrina gave us a natural disaster;

BP gave us a man-made disaster;

both are hard to overcome.

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