Author • Strategist • Changemaker


The Sea and Me

by Anna Clark

The Sea and Me

Lounging in luxe wooden chairs
stretched in royal blue canvas and
arranged in neat rows in glistening sand.
Up walks a worker with a clipboard:
“Did you rent this chair, ma’am?”
If “yes,” I may stay. If “no,” I must pay —
or leave.

The sea at Seaside is turquoise blue
with private beaches teeming with
seemingly prosperous people.
For a fee, you may claim a space
for as long as you choose to bask
in beauty unspoiled by man —
or at least a beach cleaned up by him.

I sense its splendor, but as I remove my
rose-colored sunglasses and watch a sea
gull alight and take flight again, I wonder,
“Does he see what I see in Seaside?”
A bird unconfined by borders that define
who’s in and who’s out of this oasis —
he’s no tourist; the ocean is home to him.

His coast stretches to the gulf, which meets
waters that ebb through Earth’s distant
curves. The man who plucks fish from the
ocean’s feast on that side of the sea has a
vantage point other than mine.
It’s not relaxation or recreation —
survival is what the sea means to him.

Perhaps he across the sea so far from me
also aims to escape urban life’s monotony,
which drives us tourists to the beach
to stroll on the sand and gaze at the waves.
Yet, while he and I share one Earth,
the sea that I rent for fun in the sun —
it’s more essential to his life than mine.

His sea I should protect, but do you expect
me to start a recycling campaign for
empty bottles of water and champagne?
Must I answer to the man across the sea
for inequities that aren’t my responsibility?
No. And yet, this gull so delicate —
I look into his eyes and it pains me.

I have no good explanation for why
some creatures thrive while others wither,
or why some live in squalor or die
while I sit on vacation writing seven lines
at a time, searching for symmetry
in the mystery, and wonder —
“Does this septet end with ‘me’ or ‘him’?

Contemplating these stanzas down to
the last line, at last I find
an inkling of meaning in the rhyme:
“Does my story end with me or him?
After all, I know that I alone cannot end
pollution in our air, sea and land —
God’s gifts on which all life depends.

Yet, each day is a gift of another chance
to consider my choices and their effect
on sea creatures and he who fishes
an ocean away, and to choose to care
for the least of these. Will it be
convenience for me or a cleaner sea?
I can only win by choosing Him.