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Oil Spill on Beach 50.jpg

The Spill


Juliet DeMarko

Juliet DeMarko has lived in Pensacola forty-two years. She serves on the West Florida Literary Federation Board of Directors and is currently their poet laureate. Juliet has published two memoir cookbooks and is working on two new books of poetry. Her childhood in the Blue Ridge Mountains and life on the Gulf Coast inspire her work. Postgraduate poetry courses, poetry workshops and writing keep her busy

My philosophy is:

If a memory makes me cry,

Delete it. At least, repress it.

I’m trying, but I can’t erase

all my Gulf Coast memories,

not the ones that have been

the barometer of my life, the ones

that should have been a part

of my life forever, never

should have been propelled

by an unnatural force

into the category of

“only a memory.”

Just this spring, the waves

slapped against the pier where

we sat with friends at dusk,

sipping red wine, eating thick

homemade meatloaf sandwiches,

watching the sun set once more,

and knowing life was truly good.

Now green foamy scum

slaps up against the deserted pier.

The sun sets,

but no one watches.

How many week-ends our little

Cal 28 flew through the water

while friends’ children and ours

squealed as the wind lifted the sails

and the boat leaned low over the

clear green sea. In calmer waters,

dolphins swam parallel to the boat,

rolling and leaping, showing off for

a mesmerized audience. How long

will these playful sea creatures

be able to lift their encumbered bodies?

Who will see them sink?

Earlier still in memory, we sit, before

dawn, on a blanket in the white sand

with three bundled-up little girls.

We are drinking coffee and hot chocolate

and eating gritty hard-boiled

Easter eggs while their father

explains the symbolism of

the rising sun, points out the link

between colored eggs

and ancient fertility rituals,

He assures them that

although the sun would set, it would also rise,

how a world with such sparkling beauty

could only prove that peace, love, life after death,

and, most of all, hope for a world without end

would always be there.

Then the oil rolled in with the tide,

washed over such sentimental memories,

such seemingly naïve beliefs, covering

the pristine sand with the black,

sticky stench of death.  No

glimmer of resurrection.  No

edifying symbolism. Just uncertainty

for the future of the Gulf Coast,

for the world we leave our children,

and their children.

Even faith seems inadequate to calm

the fears we can’t deny. How far will

this black menace reach?

Where is hope?

Oh, Lord, let us pray.

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