The Spill Detail

Black Death

Black Death

Dolly Haik-Adams Berthelot

Black Death
Gushes from wounded earth,
Slaughters our fish and fowl,
Our eco-system, our natural beauty,
Threatens our economy, our property values,
Our very way of life.
Silently sabotages our serenity,
Our security, our health.

Viscous, vicious,
Oil spreads through precious waterways
Like a vile marauding cancer that nothing will stop.
As when the promise of chemo and radiation fail,
Hopes rise, plummet, rise, plummet.
We rant, we rail, we tremble,
We weep, we plead, we pray.

We know it’s coming here,
Long before it hits, we know.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida.
Colon, liver, lungs, brain.
Relentlessly it spreads,
Inevitably it arrives.

And yet, the reality shocks.
When TV news suddenly shows black gunk
Flung across sugary Pensacola Beach,
I burst into tears,
Explode like Deepwater Horizon.

Explode, just as when Mama died,
After a long struggle to survive.

The mind knows,
Yet the heart is never ready
For such loss.
And, “I told you so” offers no solace.

All we can do is savor
The beauty that remains.
Cherish with deeper appreciation.
Spend quality time before it’s too late.

In the places where oil isn’t visible,
Aren’t the colors especially bright?
Isn’t Beauty even more so
With its moments so marked?


Dr. Dolly Berthelot is a veteran writer, editor and writing coach published internationally in magazines, newspapers and books. The former newspaper editor and writing professor is a communication consultant to Fortune 500 firms, organizations and private clients, including other writers and educators. Her focuses on life stories, histories and memoirs. She is author of Pioneer Spirit 76--Smoky Mountain Area BicenTENNial Anthology; PERFECTLY SQUARE--A Fantasy Fable for All Ages; and Taking Control--Creek Roots, Airman Wings, Family Heart.

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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