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Saturday, March 01, 2014


by Joan Mazza

(CNN February 22, 2014) -- On any day, between 5 million and 6 million containers are on the high seas, carrying everything from potato chips to refrigerators. But not all of them make it to their destination, as the crew of the Svendborg Maersk have just found out. Their Danish-flagged ship was in the Bay of Biscay last week as hurricane-force winds battered the Atlantic coast of Europe. Amid waves of 30 feet and winds of 60 knots, the Svendborg began losing containers off northern France. After the ship arrived in the Spanish port of Malaga this week, Maersk discovered that about 520 containers were unaccounted for. Stacks of others had collapsed. It's the biggest recorded loss of containers overboard in a single incident.
Image source: Shipspotting

Containers stacked, packed into ships overloaded
by unknown amounts until they buckle and bend,
tip their load into water. Each one the size
of a semi truck trailer, fully loaded, in stormy seas,
they dump flyswatters with sports teams’ logos,
thousands of Lego pieces.

The Hansa Carrier lost 80,000 unlaced Nike sneakers,
making it The Great Shoe Spill of 1990. Two more
containers of Nike Cross Trainers went overboard
in ‘99, offering a second chance at free shoes.
They race on ocean currents to land on shores
around the world, a colorful, startling pollution.

Traveling from China to the US in 1992,
28,000 rubber ducks and other bath toys
were dumped in the Atlantic by a rogue wave,
making them collectibles when found, turning
the waters into a bathtub for giants.

In Florida, a container of Doritos was discovered
and broken into, chips dry and mostly undamaged,
delighting beachcombers and gulls. Like trucks
spilling money on the highway, scavengers descend
for a free meal, toys, or mystery object: a huge
standing Lego Man, commanding Florida dunes.

The rest sinks deep or disperses like oil, results
to be seen later. Much later. Artificial reef or slowly
diffusing chemicals, leached into our oceans,
packing pellets in the guts of the fish we eat?

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize nominee. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Whitefish Review, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Buddhist Poetry Review, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.