Clade Song 12 left

Clade Song 12

Zostera marina

-for Jean

The eelgrass has declined all across Cape Cod, down through Buzzards Bay;
around the small harbors of the Islands it has declined.

Once, those who crossed the plentiful eelgrass imagined they floated over a meadow. The habitats of eelgrass were called meadows.

Men moored their boats in the shallow, light-filled waters where the eelgrass thrived. When the mooring chains rubbed against the ocean floor, dead spots formed in the eelgrass meadows.

This is what happened to your father: His mind filled with dead spots. He did not recognize you when you visited.  His nurse spoke softly at the doorway to his room.

The zones where eelgrass thrives suffer from cultural eutrophication. 
Eu- means well: eutrophic waters are too rich in nitrogen.

Invasive algaes cloud the clear waters eelgrass needs. The nitrogen comes from septic tanks and fertilizers.  Thus this eutrophication is cultural: made by man.

Eelgrass replicate slowly, forming linked clumps of underwater beds. It is a vital habitat for fish and wildlife, especially the bay scallops of Nantucket, the home of your memories.

Your father’s study is organized with plastic stacking drawers.  Each drawer holds mementos of an interest.  In one, there is a recorder.  Another holds a list of birds.
There are files of letters.  Your father’s correspondence goes back to the 1940s.  There are love letters.  There are bills.  Receipts for paid bills. You want to organize the drawers.

You do not organize the drawers.  You pack the drawers in your car for the long drive home. You hold these memories now; your father cannot hold them.

The bay scallop fishery is the last commercial fishery on Nantucket.  Two men go out in a boat at 7 AM.  They return at 4.  In the 1960s, Nantucketers harvested 100,000 pounds of scallops every year.  Now they harvest 10,000.

Bay scallops seed in the eelgrass meadows.  They spawn only once.  The tiny larvae of the bay scallop climb the spears of the eelgrass to escape the bottom-dwelling predators.

The floors of the eelgrass meadows harbor crabs and fin fish. Down there, over 80% of the scallop larvae will die.

In six months, your father will die.  He will leave a rubbed spot on the carpet where he stood by his window looking out at the green lawn and the visitor parking.

In the lot, the cars, with no pattern, come and go and go.

Clade Song 12 Right

Elizabeth Sylvia (she/her) is a writer of poems and other lists who lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she teaches high school English and coaches debate. She is the winner of the 2021 3 Mile Harbor Book Prize, and her manuscript None But Witches: Poems on Shakespeare will be published in late 2022.   Elizabeth’s work is upcoming or has recently appeared in  Mom Egg Review, Slipstream, Crab Creek Review, Pleiades, and a bunch of other wonderful journals. She is currently working on poems about gardening through the end of the world with her imaginary friend Marie Antoinette and a verse investigation of the writer Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard.




deer moth sparrow sparrow sparrow frog spider spider spider spider spider rat rat rat rat