Like the Rivers Of Hades
the black sludge spreads forth
consuming all in its path.
Our marine animal friends
are smothered and die,
can't lift their oil-clogged
and fly away.
Our once golden beaches
become black murky bogs
reeking of death and dsetruction
inaccessible to eveyone.
Fishermen have had to
hang up their nets
and hope and pray
the waters will become
and they can
push out their boats
and fish again.
And when oil spills
who do we have to blame?
The company that drills
to suck out the oil?
for our our insatiable
greed and consumption
of natural resources
that can't be replenished.
When Oil Spills by Tony Ogunlowo
The oil spill had escaped its barriers in the heavy storm and was headed south, according to a text from Ben.
“We’ve got to do something!” said Mel.
“I know,” said Anne. “We need to get to the beach.”
“I want to go, too,” said Halima.
“You’re coming with us? I don’t want you to miss out on the party for our sake,” said Mel.
“Aye, I’m coming with you. This is going to be more exciting than any party. I just need to be home by 10:30. Alright with you, Zayed?”
Her brother nodded solemnly.
“If you’re going, then we’re going, too,” said Emani, wrapping an arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders.
“Well that’s settled then,” said Anne. “There are still buses running that direction. It won’t be fast, but it’ll get us there quicker than walking.”
“I appreciate the eco-friendly sentiment, but I did drive us here,” said Zayed. “And there’s room for all six of us in the minivan.”
“Thank you, Zayed,” said Mel. She liked a boy who wasn’t afraid to say he drove a minivan.
The party exited the hall in a rainbow of dresses–all except Zayed, who had donned a simple black-and-white suit for the occasion. The downpour had ceased, but a spitting mist still scoured their faces and a strong wind ruffled Mel’s damp hair. Anne, Halima, Emani, and Elizabeth all tried to huddle under Anne’s umbrella, with limited success. Mel walked in front of the group and watched the clouds drifting over the gibbous moon. Her clothes had never fully dried, and she figured a little water couldn’t hurt her now. Zayed followed a few steps behind with a distant smile on his face, seeming not to feel the cold.
The few other people out on the street cast curious glances their direction but swiftly
looked away. One of them looked like Mam. Mel’s stomach dropped for what must have been the hundredth time that evening. How could she come home after everything that had happened? Maybe she could call Jackie and ask to stay with her for the rest of the summer.
Zayed unlocked the minivan and the girls piled in, careful not to snag their long dresses in the sliding doors.
“Hey Halima? Zayed? Don’t you think the minivan would be cooler as a double decker?”
asked Elizabeth. “I take the city bus every week, but it’s always just the regular old boring bus.”
“The 26 has double deckers. That’s the line I take to visit my sister over in Heworth,” said Emani.
“What are we going to do once we get to the beach?” Halima cut in.
“I haven’t thought it out that far. I texted my dad and–oh, he’s calling now,” Anne said as
the opening bars of Cosmo Sheldrake’s Tardigrade Song rang from her cell.
“I’ve never been on a double decker,” Elizabeth whispered to Emani. “Which is more
energy efficient, a double decker or a train?”
“I haven’t got a clue. They’re both better than cars, for certain.”
Anne waved her arms for them to be quiet. “–no, Dad, we’re already on our way, I–yes, we’ll see you soon.”
“What did he say?” asked Halima.
“Well, he said not to come. But seeing as we’re already on our way, he’s going to meet us at the research office. He doesn’t want us walking alone at dusk.”
A tired-looking Ben was waiting for them in the parking lot. He wore a blue-and-white striped jumper and soft black pants that might have been pyjama bottoms. He looked like a man who had planned for a cozy night of reading and drinking tea and had been sorely disappointed.
“I’m sorry, Anne, I shouldn’t have even told you about the oil spill,” he said. “Listen, girls, Zayed, I appreciate you coming, but there’s not much we can do at the moment. I’ll take you back to the party so you can finish your evening.”
“I want to at least see what the shore looks like first. Is it really covered in oil?” asked Halima.
“No, the oil spill hasn’t even hit us yet. There’s still a small chance it might be contained. But it’s hard to say right now,” said Ben.
“Can we still go down to the beach?” asked Halima. “I’d like to see for myself.”
“Fine,” said Ben. “But let’s stop in the office first. I keep some spare rain ponchos there in case of emergencies. And text your mum and tell her where you are. Mrs. Bulmer has been a real help in securing our grant funding for next year. I’d hate for her to worry about you. You too, girls. Tell your families where you are.”
Mel pretended to search the folds of her dress for her phone, which her dad had confiscated mere hours ago. It didn’t matter if her parents were wondering where she was. It wasn’t like she could go back home anyway.
At least Lisa would be happy. She’d never have to share their bedroom again.
About the author: Ella Shively is a writer and wildlife technician in northern Florida. You can find her online at https://www.instagram.com/shivelywrites/.
About this chapter's featured poet: Unfortunately, we were unable to find any information on Tony Ogunlowo. Please get in touch if you know who he is.