Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oh No, Not Again! We're on "The Edge".

In 1969, there was an oil spill in the Pacific Ocean, near Santa Barbara California. 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the water and onto the beaches of Santa Barbara County. 10,000 birds were killed. Soon afterwards, artist Claire Moore published a book, "The Edge", in which she vividly described in words and drawings the impact of an ecological disaster.

The Edge
Prose and Drawings by Claire Moore

The river stinks like slime but
boys jump in. They don’t mind

rivers like
old people
in their beds.

Fill levels and buries
the marsh and phragmites.
The mud hens, banished,
clutch their shadows.

A skinny winged gull
roosting in swamp
and spittle
echoes her mate,

an augur, blackened,
grieving, “The sea
my wilderness


And the heron.
Is that a heron’s
shadow, one, two,
one, stepping?

Afloat – a girdle of terns.
Terns trilling on the shore’s edge.
The terns rise up all together,
like a quivering cloud.

Whereupon the man
whose small brave body,
to an observer
like an exhilarated bird,
dives in – into the wave.

Oh buoyant bird
to the desert
we call “Sea,”

the tide
slobbers over
of dead fish.

Fly! You wretched bird
with globbed beak skyward.

Run babies!
crushing the new-born
with your little naked feet.

And my toes too break through
the caked sand.
But a cold brown foam
creeps forward.

It seeps down
into castanet-like clams
wasting their words
in secret burrows.

It seeps down into tubelike shells
into beings
stronger than waves
but stained.

Bodies spill
over the continental
The planet dies

Another case of history repeating itself!

P.S. Those of you who read my blog may recall that my grandfather was a charter fishing boat captain in the Gulf Of Mexico. As a child, I spent many hours exploring this special part of the world, and was in constant awe of the diversity of its natural history.

Note: The American artist, Claire Moore was born in New York City in 1917. Since the 1930s, she was writing prose and making prints. She studied at the Art Students League, and worked with David Siqueiros at the Siqueiros Workshop. Sponsored by Fernand Leger, she received a MacDowell Fellowship. Her books and prints can be found in many collections throughout the United States. She died in 1988.


  1. "thickening like old people in their beds"--amazing art, amazing words. Oh, Marjorie, this is just heartbreaking and sickening. Thank you for letting me know about your post and for your words over at mine tonight. The best strength we have right now is our willingness to speak out for change. This madness has to end.


  2. Wonderful words and images by Claire Moore and sadly so apropos for today, as well.

  3. Oh Marjorie,
    It's so awful. We had this when the Torrey Canyon went down just off of the Cornish coast in the 60's although, it wasn't half as bad as your disaster. I do hope that they can sort something out.....and soon. Claire Moore's words and pictures say it all really. XXXX

  4. Lovely comment on a tragic sad but beautifully expressed.

  5. thanks for bringing this artist to our attention . .