Twisting around corners of smoothened concrete forming manmade cascading waterfall, the rainwater is driven by gravity. The dust and grime from steel, wood and concrete is stripped clean as the driving raindrops fall from the sky. Speeding down the concrete highways down into the drains and lawns underneath a black and stormy southern California sky, the blacktop of the street smiles in relief as large droplets of cool rain clean him up, wiping him down clean of the oil and grime produced by millions of vehicles passing overhead everyday. Some of the rain is absorbed by the small green plots of carefully manicured paradise; a postage stamp of green containing the hopes and dreams of its landscaper. Down the street a river has formed washing away the dirt and picking up whatever falls into its path, cascading down a steel grate painted with a logo of a fish skeleton, “Drains to the Ocean,” it warns as an Evian bottle dances its way down through the steel grate.
He is a daredevil, in another time he may have gone over the great Niagara Falls, as a matter of fact his grandfather may have. Evian would often tell the story of how his grandfather was one of the first plastics to float and bob over the mighty Horseshoe Falls, plunging one hundred and seventy feet and surrounded by the deafening roar of millions of gallons of water Grandpa was tossed about and submerged several times before floating over to the shelter of a rock where a curious seagull took a sip of the cola which had somehow managed to remain contained within Grandpa’s bottle. The bird smiled and flew off. Evian remembered how others laughed at him as he lie stuck in the gutter. He vowed he would have his moment and here it was! He floated and bobbed his way down the gutter and into the steel grate cascading over a six foot falls and working his way out into the wild open water.
The water was black. I had heard from my new brethren that most would dare not go out to ride the surf until two days after a rain. I had not understood this though I knew why. Surfers who had ventured out into the ocean to play with Mother would become sick. Mother was sick, contagious, we were well advised to wait until she became well. I walked cautiously to the shoreline. It had been one hundred and fifty-five days since we had seen rain, the environment felt new. Unsure. I found a few of my brothers and sisters out in the ocean but Mother looked lackluster today. I walked with my rain soaked clothes on down the beach. The sand felt cool to my feet but something was wrong. A few hundred yards down the beach I felt a twinge in my stomach; Her tears were evident as I looked out over the wild open water, blackened with the flow of drainage.
One hundred and fifty-five days of oil, grime, and trash came cascading down the drainage pipe and out into the ocean. Seagulls bounced up and down dodging some while pecking at others looking for anything remotely edible. I stood surrounded by discarded water bottles of Evian, Aquafina, and Dasani. Dozens of old tennis balls washed up on the shore along with random plastic wrappers and trash. The waves moved with labored movement, as if burdened by the weight of oil in the tons. Her pain became vocal in the sound of her movement, like a child curled over in pain as her stomach wretches. I fell to my knees and cried as I stared in awe and terror at what we had done.
I am your brother, the one you love but don’t remember. I feel your pain and long to help but don’t have the answer. You must figure it out before we all perish.
I am your sister, the one whose secrets you guarded for a lifetime. I cannot hold all this inside of me anymore the truth must come out before we all perish.
I am your best friend; we shared blood and promised to never forsake one another decades ago, with heads cradled beneath our hands and staring up at a full moon. I feel so alone in this agony, it is time to renew that promise if we wish to survive.
I am anonymous. You know me though I have no name. We are all a part of each other, part of something bigger than the little green postage stamp we created for ourselves. We kill and steal from Mother in the belief she will forgive. She will understand. Her patience wanes, it is time for us to help heal.
I spend an hour picking up Evian, walking along the beach with plastic bag in hand. I try not to think about the scale of this. The reality of how small this piece of Mother is. She is fighting for life over thousands of miles. She will heal with or without us, if it means we perish, She will prevail.
In the now I am sick along with Her and until we are both healed, my name is unimportant.
I love you Mother…