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ONLY A MEMORY

ONLY A MEMORY

Juliet DeMarko

My philosophy is:
If a memory makes me cry,
Delete it. At least, repress it.
I’m trying, but I can’t erase
all my Gulf Coast memories,
not the ones that have been
the barometer of my life, the ones
that should have been a part
of my life forever, never
should have been propelled
by an unnatural force
into the category of
“only a memory.”

Just this spring, the waves
slapped against the pier where
we sat with friends at dusk,
sipping red wine, eating thick
homemade meatloaf sandwiches,
watching the sun set once more,
and knowing life was truly good.
Now green foamy scum
slaps up against the deserted pier.
The sun sets,
but no one watches.

How many week-ends our little
Cal 28 flew through the water
while friends’ children and ours
squealed as the wind lifted the sails
and the boat leaned low over the
clear green sea. In calmer waters,
dolphins swam parallel to the boat,
rolling and leaping, showing off for
a mesmerized audience. How long
will these playful sea creatures
be able to lift their encumbered bodies?
Who will see them sink?

Earlier still in memory, we sit, before
dawn, on a blanket in the white sand
with three bundled-up little girls.
We are drinking coffee and hot chocolate
and eating gritty hard-boiled
Easter eggs while their father
explains the symbolism of
the rising sun, points out the link
between colored eggs
and ancient fertility rituals,
He assures them that
although the sun would set, it would also rise,
how a world with such sparkling beauty
could only prove that peace, love, life after death,
and, most of all, hope for a world without end
would always be there.

Then the oil rolled in with the tide,
washed over such sentimental memories,
such seemingly naïve beliefs, covering
the pristine sand with the black,
sticky stench of death.  No
glimmer of resurrection.  No
edifying symbolism. Just uncertainty
for the future of the Gulf Coast,
for the world we leave our children,
and their children.

Even faith seems inadequate to calm
the fears we can’t deny. How far will
this black menace reach?
Where is hope?
Oh, Lord, let us pray.


Juliet DeMarko has lived in Pensacola forty-two years. She serves on the West Florida Literary Federation Board of Directors and is currently their poet laureate. Juliet has published two memoir cookbooks and is working on two new books of poetry. Her childhood in the Blue Ridge Mountains and life on the Gulf Coast inspire her work. Postgraduate poetry courses, poetry workshops and writing keep her busy. Juliet’s poem

The Spill

In 2010, when the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill exploded and threatened the way of life that Gulf Coast residents know and love, West Florida Literary Federation offered an outlet for expression. During the six months when the uncapped well gushed, and for one year following the successful capping of the well, writers, poets and photographers from across the country sent us their words, thoughts and feelings, thereby providing a literary record of the Deep Water Horizon environmental disaster. Here are the best of the submissions.

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