The night is still, silent as motion can be. A silver moon hangs low across the water, casting it’s light over the rippling waves. They crest at the beach and break over the dark sand. Rocks and seaweed are light against the black sand beach. A sea wall up the beach a way, now the end of the beach, stacks logs against it and things live there. Things besides the children of the day in their imaginations as they play.
Things that you’ve never seen, things you couldn’t see even if you tried.
The beach is full of people in the day, practically swarming with them. They’re alright. They live behind the sea wall only a road and a sidewalk away, where the beach used to end. They put the concrete down and built the wall. They hold the sea at bay yet wish they had more contact with the natural. With something they haven’t touched. Only when they wade in the water and the kelp brushes their legs do they think about this, and then it’s only I wish I could see more, or holy shit, what’s touching my leg?!
Tonight the water is alone, the people are gone. The colors fade between blue, blue green, silver, gray, and black. The picture is layered, water, waves, crashing surf, layers of beach, logs, sea wall, and a jagged reaching of buildings and people’s creations behind it. The fence and gate keeping the sea from the people and the people from the sea are locked. No one should be here.
The beach is alone, nothing shares with it the space beyond the fence at this time. The consequences of such an action are severe, and no one should tempt the harsh government of the time.
The tall figure of a man walks along the beach near the surf’s edge seems to fade into the shades of the beach. He walks here alone every night, watching the sea and the surf. He knows this beach, every contour. He knows what the people bring to it, and he knows what they take away. He watches as it changes, and he feels a calmness the sea brings out in him.
As he walks, occasionally he stoops, plucking a piece of plastic or bit of fabric from the sand. With each thing he picks up and stows away in his bag, the line of his jaw tightens. A spark of fire lights in his eyes, and burns his soul to see the rubbish left here. This is his place to be himself, alone, with his thoughts and himself. Everything he sees is a personal insult, an affront to the sea.
He’s been a boy when the wall was constructed, he had been watching the men always moving things around, building, creating, destroying. Yet through everything, even when the beach looked its worst, it had been his. More than anyone else, it was his.
And no matter what the people did to it, the sea seemed to like them. To care about them, help them. And the beach was his, friend. He would help its task, and he would keep it safe, as much as he could. He and the beach, the man who walked along the monochrome layers of sand and salt and waves, and the water that rose and fell to his step, they were a team.
This piece was originally written for the Seattle Acquarium’s Creativity Inspiring Conservation creative writing course, and was displayed during their 2013 student art reception.
The statement written for the program:
I feel like there’s a deep connection between people and the environment, I think it communicates with us, and I hope it will get easier to find people who are willing to try and listen.