I Can’t Mend the Coral Reef

Today the water is aqua and crystal clear
fish too many to count____a school of gar gliding
like pencils of cellophane
over ripples in the sand____a great barracuda
stalking a fisherman’s bait____like waltzers
on a dance floor two eagle rays sway
in perfect time with the waves

I know the earth is warming
the ocean is turning acid and bleaching
the coral reef_____glaciers are melting
costing the polar bears their floes
red tides are killing
dolphins and fish____wildfires burning
turning forests into ghost towns
of cinder and smoke

But today the air is crisp in my throat
a mockingbird trills and talks____in the bare
branches of the frangipani over the porch
a philodendron climbs giant leaves
around the gumbo limbo’s crusty trunk
a shaving brush tree spews
the sky with little puffs of pink
a forked frigate bird soars overhead

I can get rid of plastics____eat less red meat
recycle bottles and tin____I can walk and ride
my bike____I can protest
and march in the street but I can’t replace
the rainforest’s trees or purify the sea
I can’t make the glaciers refreeze
or mend the coral reef

I can only write to hold onto
the jasmine’s fragrance
the melody of the mockingbird
the vibrant violet of the orchids in the palms
to render the leathery iguana
warming in the sun and preserve
the rhythm of the dancing rays

By Sherri Wright

Sherri Wright runs, practices yoga, and volunteers at a food rescue. Her poetry has been published in Panoply, Creative Nonfiction, Mojave River Review, Decimos — We Say, Prairie Schooner, Dreamers Creative Writing, Persimmon Tree, and Delaware Beach Life.