Why Bother?

–a new setting for an old story

Overnight the storm had washed up
thousands of starfish onto the beach,
turned orange by the early sunrise.
Stepping between the stars I bent down
to throw one back into the water.
Then another star splashed in, and another.
I threw them in by the dozen,
stars that were bent or lying upside down,
ones on dry sand or even missing an arm.

A jogger stopped my arm and asked,
“Why are you doing this? There are
thousands of starfish out here, and
they’ll all be baked dead in a few hours.”

“This is true,” I said, “It is always this way
after a storm.” I pulled away from his grasp
to throw another star back into the sea.

For Mike

Jim Black, Urbana Champaign, Medical Scholars Program

Class of 1991
Originally published in Vol. VII: 1991