The lab is preparing to head out to sea this weekend to continue our effort to evaluate the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill on microbes in deep-sea sediments. These are enigmatic ecosystems because of their remoteness, but we have much to learn from microbes in them about the spill, and life in the deep ocean. These trips, and the time they afford with my students and colleagues are the best part of my work. Each time I learn something new about the ocean, my field, and myself.
To prepare for the cruise, and to celebrate World Oceans Day, I share one of my favorite poems:
The Sea by Pablo Neruda
I need the sea because it teaches me.
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.
It’s not simply the shells crunched
as if some shivering planet
were giving signs of its gradual death;
no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment,
the stalactite from the sliver of salt,
and the great god out of a spoonful.
What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air
ceaseless wind, water and sand.
It seems a small thing for a young person,
to have come here to live with his own fire;
nevertheless, the pulse that rose
and fell in its abyss,
the crackling of the blue cold,
the gradual wearing away of the star,
the soft unfolding of the wave
squandering snow with its foam,
the quiet power out there, sure
as a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my world in which were growing
stubborn sorrow, gathering oblivion,
and my life changed suddenly:
as I became part of its pure movement.
Happy World Oceans Day