This is your brain on whales (and dolphins and sea birds)

Last weekend I spent 36 hours on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean in search of marine wildlife. This is what I saw. And thought.

 Humpback whale, Great South Channel, Atlantic Ocean. July 2017. ©Erica Cirino

Humpback whale, Great South Channel, Atlantic Ocean. July 2017. ©Erica Cirino

how could such an enormous creature simply slip beneath the surface in such a small swirl of water and vanish, right before my eyes?

how is it that this creature that seems to magically exist in this other reality, this other world–this vast, dark ocean–be made of the same stuff as me: flesh and bone and brain and spirit; suspended in water and raised on our mothers’ milk?

…are these whales my brothers and sisters?

These musings and more posted on Medium, with more of my original photography. Read here

Oil Well Erupts

A poem for the 7th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

 Photo by  John Lester . Oil-soaked wave in Alabama, June 2010. (Flickr)

Photo by John Lester. Oil-soaked wave in Alabama, June 2010. (Flickr)

“It’s far away,”

They say,

At first,

Down on the bottom

Where no light can reach,

“Everything is under control.”

Yet what’s happening on the seabed

Is a different story,

There the truth is obscured

By an unfathomable heaviness,

A slick, thick crimson ink

Swirling up from the depths.

Traveling through the sea,

Higher and higher,

Until it erupts at the surface

And feels the breeze,

And creeps menacingly across

Miles and miles of ocean.

“Ok, we see it,”

They say,

“But don’t fuss,”

They tell us.

“We’ll fix it,”

Then some of the oil ignites,

Some washes to shore,

Some entraps animals

In its sticky hold:

An almost certain death sentence.

Two months later,

Down on the bottom

Where we can’t see,

The slippery oil

Continues to pour

Up and out,

It swirls

Throughout the water

And to the surface,

Where it reveals 

More and more of itself.

Again, “We’ll fix it,”

They say,

Although blinded

By power and greed,

By this ecological hell,

“We’ll fix it,”

They say,

“This leaking oil well.”

Originally posted to Medium on April 20, 2017.

Complete

 ©Erica Cirino. Linocut print “The Swing Tree,” 3/5. 2017.

©Erica Cirino. Linocut print “The Swing Tree,” 3/5. 2017.

There is no greater moment–no moment filled with more excitement and possibility–than the realization that you need nothing auxiliary to make you whole; the realization that you, yourself have the power to destroy and create; the realization that all you need and all you are lies inside of you; the realization that you are good: A sentient being with wisdom and knowledge, power and weakness, virtue and vice, empathy and jealousy, love and hate.

You are nothing more, you are nothing less. You are complete.

Originally posted to Medium on April 6, 2017. 

Peace

A poem about looking for salvation on the open sea. 

 ©Erica Cirino. Pacific Ocean, November 2016.

©Erica Cirino. Pacific Ocean, November 2016.

Out here

There is not much to see

But the sky and water

Which pass above and below me

Each day, each hour, 

Each minute, each second.

Each day is mostly the same.

I spend my time

Steering and cleaning

And cooking and writing,

And wondering

Why I came

Out here.

Deep down, 

I know.

Out here,

I thought

I could be saved,

I could find purpose,

A vision 

Of my true self,

An understanding

Of what

I am doing here

As one small being

On a vast planet.

So I went looking for myself

Out here,

At sea,

Beneath the great white sails

That stand quiet 

And taut in the gale

Yet flap loudly in the calm,

Sounding like

A thousand pages

Turning

In an enormous book;

Amongst the elegantly gliding seabirds

And the sleek blue-gray dolphins,

That eye the ship

With a look

Of both curiosity and caution;

With a group of strangers

Whom I share little in common with

Other than my sense of adventure

And humanity.

After 23 days

At sea,

When my bare feet meet

Solid earth

For the first time

In a long time,

And my legs sway

Like reeds in a breeze

Unused to the stillness,

My body still seeking

The strange comfort

Of movement,

Of the wind and the waves,

I ask myself,

“Have you found what you were looking for,

Out there?”

Yes, I believe I did

Find something:

Peace.

Originally posted to Medium on March 23, 2017. 

Choice

 ©Erica Cirino

©Erica Cirino

Emotional choice shapes emotional experience. The energies we choose to release to those around us are what we will feel reflected back upon us. 

You radiate
The energies
You possess.
Only you
Can choose
What to release,
How to feel.
Give love,
Feel love.
Give joy,
Feel joy.
Give peace,
Feel peace.
Give hate,
And yes,
You will
Feel that, too.

Choose wisely.