“In the early morning of Jan. 18, 1971, two Standard Oil tankers collided in dense fog … outside the Golden Gate and spilled more than 800,000 gallons of … oil. Tens of thousands of volunteers … flocked to beaches … such as Bolinas Lagoon … to save as much of the wildlife as possible.” Marin Independent Journal
My stomach has always been the lagoon, my chest Kent Island, my skin sand, my hair bull kelp tangled by sea,
When the seabirds began to wash up on my shore, their bodies slick with oil, that is when my people came,
They came with long hair, with drums, with towels to hold dying birds, bales of hay to fill my estuary,
And after the birds, after the oil, they stayed with me, walking barefoot, putting up tents along my beach, the edges of their tarps licked with salt,
And when they grew tired of the taste of salt, they built a bookstore run by honor system, a Free Box where you can “expect a miracle,” they opened a grocery co-op, painted the sea wall in pastel, put goats in my pastures, they grew rows of calla lilies between my eucalyptus groves,
And when their hair turned grey, when their hands grew too brittle to play the drums, the rising sun met with silence,
When they began to talk of the oil spill and the birds as legacy, I beckoned the blue herons to bid them goodbye, I let them slip away silently into my tide,
Still, I leave their lives offerings in the shape of sand dollars and sea glass.
I do not bury my own, But I let those that love me, wash out to sea.
Hannah Yerington is an emerging poet, a Jewish Arts educator, and the director of the Bolinas Poetry Camp for Girls. Her work has been published in Rogue Agent, River Heron Review, and Racket among others. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at Bowling Green State University. She writes many things; primarily the space between Judaism and feminism, as well as the sea, post-memory, and the occasional talking flower.