The tidal wave, observed, collapses into tiny particles, each one containing a story: a mobile phone, ringing deep inside a mountain of sludge and debris; a ring of soldiers, bowing to a body they’ve flagged; a medical worker clad in full radiation hazmat, wanding a bare-faced baby who is squirming in his mother’s arms; a line of toddlers, waiting quietly for their turn to be tested. These images, a minuscule few representing the inconceivable many, eddy and grow old, degrading with each orbit around the gyre, slowly breaking down into razor-sharp fragments and brightly colored shards. Like plastic confetti, they’re drawn into the gyre’s becalmed center, the garbage patch of history and time. The gyre’s memory is all the stuff that we’ve forgotten.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki