Burning is ocean shared
(Fukushima chant: 5 years, 10 years, quake years, 30 years, isotopic iteration, water, water everywhen)
“Today, the radiation at the Fukushima plant is still so powerful it has proven impossible to get into its bowels to find and remove the extremely dangerous blobs of melted fuel rods, weighing hundreds of tonnes. Five robots sent into the reactors have failed to return.” – Aaron Sheldrick and Minami Funakoshi, March 11, 2016
“Cooling water levels have fallen in two reactors at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant since a powerful earthquake hit the area last weekend, indicating possible additional damage, its operator said Friday… ‘The case raises the question of whether we should tolerate a society that prioritizes economic activities over people’s lives and health,’ said Izutaro Mangi.” – Mari Yamaguchi, February 19, 2021
Of ancestral reefs & corals, you dreamt – the names of the Goddess as anemone, each hue a harbinger of disappearance, the splayed shakti of sorrow, of that which you behold – will surely disintegrate. What paperwork do fish use to immigrate? * This 60% of you – what could be sea – what could be 75% of your bowels – this water that recycles life & half-lives, this body’s fuel & cleanser that fuels the body, that detoxifies & extends our whole life, that converges in beds of ocean, in scales of contamination where even the robots do not survive. * 5 years, 10 years, fish years, catch no longer eaten by hooks & hands but by isotopes. A fuel log or a rockfish 8 km off the coast, a becquerel of violence, or simply 500 becquerels of cesium/kg, 5x beyond safety of human consumption, 10x above fishery standards. Search for all the names for all the fishermen who couldn’t evacuate but needed to evacuate. Search for all the limbs you would rejoin. No need to search: Radiation didn’t request a visa to make it here – California’s coast crumbles – in case you are more troubled by disasters near. * Silver hair in your heart, a fist shouldering the work of rot or renewal. A repair caught in your throat when your thyroid can no longer parse life from griefs. You want solutions – * – but energy is a question, an overlapping ambition you never know will emerge or disrupt or sit up or breathe – or marvel. What is the half-life of memory? * You dream of living on less & less water. You dream of drought & liking it, of holding parch like a newborn against your nipple. The tide pulls you in, pulls you out. The music of the world burns. You ache and feel the cold of a bluefin which was once skittering. * What happens when memory? (– all is safe, all will be well –) Your shawl is slipping off shoulder. It is too nuclear to be shawled. You travel to see hammerheads in a cage. You grab yesterday, hold hope between your teeth until the moment blisters its tail. Even the robots have melted into the melting. Tomorrow’s innovation burns. You don’t dream of life returning. * We are not & yet the ocean is one. Energy created, energy escaped. Your womb shakes as history (unsettling). We are not but the ocean is one. We are fever mistaken for a toxin. Your voice bears waters. We & the ocean one. We, the ocean, are one. The pounding womb of ocean nears & disappears. Of life – you don’t dream – returning.
Purvi Shah’s favorite art practices are her sparkly eyeshadow, raucous laughter, and seeking justice. She won the inaugural SONY South Asian Social Service Excellence Award for her leadership fighting violence against women. Her new book, Miracle Marks (Northwestern University Press, 2019), explores women, the sacred, and gender and racial equity; her debut prize-winning book, Terrain Tracks (New Rivers Press, 2006), plumbs migration and belonging. Her work has been taught in universities and featured on TV, radio, and websites. During the 10th anniversary of 9/11, with Kundiman, she directed Together We Are New York, a community-based poetry project highlighting Asian American voices. With artist Anjali Deshmukh, Shah creates interactive art at circlefor.com. Their participatory project, Missed Fortunes, documented experiences, celebrations, and pandemic rituals to create poetry and visual art, connection, and a community archive for healing. You can see and purchase the art prints at tiny.one/circlefor. Find more @PurviPoets.