I am the marvel that is mangrove: torn by a hurricane from the shore and carried deep into the ocean where I find myself, adrift. By rights, I shouldn’t be here, for everything is against me. But over millennia, I have learnt how to survive and even more: thrive. Look at me, upright and homeless and proud as my moving form tiptoes on water, tossing the saltiness from my leaves back into the greedy waves.
I am the marvel that is mangrove: I make my own soil by ensnaring passing debris in my aerial roots, exposed to air and light, trapping the rain and simmering bacteria that fizzes with life. And then, when I am quite ready, I plant my seeds on to this floating islet that I am queen of, and my seeds stretch and scatter until my little peninsula becomes a floating ocean forest, always silent, never still, protecting the coastal people from cyclones and tsunamis.
I am the marvel that is mangrove: I move my forest-body slowly beneath the lashing rain and blistering sun. I do not know where I am going and only travel with the winds that propel me. Perhaps I will be pulled into the shores of a distant land, latching on to the roots of another as I move by. Perhaps I will never grow beyond a sapling, destined to dry or starve. Perhaps the storms I am subjected to will topple me. All I know is that I will keep drifting and dancing; I will continue with this itinerant life with crabs tickling my toes and gulls resting in my hair as the world turns on its axis. Night-day, day-night, I breathe.
I am the marvel that is mangrove.
Rebecca Stonehill lives in Norfolk with her husband and three children. She is author of three novels, The Poet's Wife, The Girl and the Sunbird and The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale.