Beyond Borders

Sophia Howrey

This is a short Tanka poem for my beloved hometown. I was born and raised in the small city of Imperial Beach, California. Dubbed the “Most Southwestern City in the U.S.”, it was a pleasant place to grow up. The main street sent you straight from the shopping centers to the shoreline. You could even walk from the Tijuana Estuary into Mexico. Kids there spent their summers soaking up the gorgeous California sun, and early mornings had surfers wide awake and ready for the waves. But there’s a catch. Factories in Tijuana, Mexico often polluted the rivers and the ocean. There have been several toxic spills. There are even cases of people getting severely ill and dying after exposure to the polluted water. I remember some days when I was so excited to go to the beach, only to find that signs had been put up in the sand stating that the water wasn’t safe. Sometimes, the beach would be closed for weeks. Even though the dangers of the pollution are well known to the residents of Imperial Beach, the contamination continues, putting the beach, wildlife, and residents at risk.

Beyond Borders

Viewing the jetty
The sea wide open for me,
but poisoned once again.
Hear the tides in agony
Sewage quells the seaweed’s scent.

I traveled across
Seeking a beautiful
Renewal of faith
Some promising rumours of
A state spared by factories

In far inland Maine
A last pollution free
Unlike like the spoiled sea
But tears whelmed over the sight
Of browned rivers and creeks

Struck with disbelief
We breathe it in, pour it out
How could they stand when
The chemicals eat away
All the denials claimed at trial?

Stretching coast to coast
Enough partisan debate
Consider the fates
Of generations to come
Cherish the world we have