Pull up a chair and watch the reel:
red algal tides visible from outer space
suffocate fish in their anoxic embrace

minke whale, polar bear, glaucous gull
apex predators drunk on cocktails
with jazzy names: DDT, PCB, POPs,
whichever new toxin tops the charts

mercury-kissed membranes silver
brains of beluga with anomalies

raucous roar of sonar bleeds
through seas, beached beaked
whales surfaced to land in panic,
stomachs filled with plastic

gannets strangled in nests of rope, sky
eyes riven on styrofoam clouds

rivers of acid sluice through
fragmented dreams of landscapes

what is hope, what is memory
to zooplankton, to a seabird,
to earth, wind, fire, water

at the end, when final credits fill
the screen, in which tongue
should we bray, squeal, shriek
apology as we stand up alone
in the dark and clap, clap, clap.

Sari C. Cunningham is a dual national (USA/Belgium), ecologist and writer, living near Oslo, Norway. Her poetry and nature writing have been published by The Island Review, Kyoto Journal, The Curlew, and others. This poem was written in 2020, after returning from the bird island of Runde, where gannets breed in nests of nylon rope. She is interested in conservation biology, and how narrative shapes our relationship with the natural world.

Twitter: @Sari_Cunningham