Restoration Cycle

by Becky Lee Issue: Spring 2019


A mother carries her dead newborn across a thousand miles

     for 17 days until she couldn’t.

The body of her child finally withers

away into the ocean—

that place where life and decay,

history hidden and unhidden,   tussle and toss in the waves.


People explain away grief the way they talk about change, as coming in waves,

measurable like time and tides:     How long until…?     How far have we left to go…?    Decades.    Miles.

            Something carried in the wind stinks — a composite of natural and unnatural detritus loaded with moral decay.

What cannot be seen cannot be trusted nor believed.     Even if people could see, they couldn’t

   believe     truth. Into the murky waters we go.      Breaking news: More heat is being absorbed by the ocean

than suspected… Dead whale found with 13 pounds of plastic in its stomach… How humans impact… a fact that withers


     in a newsfeed.     Hope is carried on the feather of a tweet, withers

     at complacency.   A generation shifts agency, how a people can now make waves.

            No need to link hands across America nor build telegraph lines across the ocean.

            A satellite insta-message insta-spans miles.

                    And what is documented in virtual reality    in virtual cloud couldn’t

                    doctor history cloud reality   disappear with time. Inorganic matter cannot decay.


In actual reality —carried on the wind, stamped deep into earth, eating at our brains— decay:

the remains of our killing, our forgetting, our looking away. Death is a natural cycle, except when it’s not. Truth withers      

when the new/spin grinds up     logic, human decency, love into nothing.     What we thought couldn’t

be, has always been, and always will be unless we keep moving and making waves.

                              Make them tiny, a start from home.     Make them tidal, sweeping the shores.   Make them roll miles

                                                                                   in from the deep. Let them be tsunamis, a reckoning from the ocean.


Warning: It begins   with absence of sound   of movement a choking quiet    the unordinary stillness of the ocean.

At the shore      at the border    the wall will come crashing down        expose human failures to rawness and decay.

End times is now here or in 20 years     and the meek shall make nothing of the mighty.     With no sleep for miles,

they have come: the migrants. Whose woods these are, whose land, we know was never ours to own.  Hubris withers

in a tempest.    A caravan of survivors & dreamers      the salt of earth & sea cannot be washed away in the waves,

unlike lines drawn in the sand | along valleys | between mountains | through airspace | mappings by men who couldn’t


 create nations without borders. We must do what the selfish couldn’t.

Keep a candle lit for the ones lost in the crossing of desert, river, and ocean.

Keep the lamplight on for the living coming home …pounding at golden doors …in thunderous waves.

Hear the babies wail, the mothers grieve, the tearing away of families ricochet like bullets in the decay

of a news cycle. Keep watch or momentum withers.

Keep vigil: the fires are burning and have been for miles.


And the people who are determined we couldn’t make possible another world shall drown in their own decay.

Study the anatomy of a storm in the ocean, the cycles & movements, how one ignites and withers.

A magnificent one is coming in on the waves. The landfall deafening. Inundating. Changing our landscapes for miles.

Becky Lee

Becky Lee was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied poetry, dance, and literature. When she turned 40, she earned her Master’s degree in Education from Portland State University. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past 10 years, Becky now calls Portland, Oregon home. As a public high school English Language Arts teacher, Becky is committed to helping young people discover their voices as writers. Her poetry has appeared in Rise Up Review.