Lately it seems I can hardly speak as my mouth is full of Barbie shoes (like those dreams you have in which your teeth fall out, how they rattle loose and useless). Wedged sharp in my throat sits a toy car that we got in a Kinder-Surprise, and yes, it required assembly; at night I brush my hair with a doll's brush, the plastic points bending rather than actually going through my hair. It smoothes.
Once when Zoey was a teeny tiny baby I sat with some other mothers that I did not know very well, (back when I was ashamed to mix formula in public). One of the other women had an older child--a boy, maybe 5--and as we sat there she swatted at him to stop crawling on her, to get off of her, to stop it! I did not understand since all I wanted to do was take my breast out like the rest of them, me with my pre-measured packets of Similac stashed. Why would you ever swat your child away?
At dinner now Zoey eats two bites of whatever is palest on her plate and then slides off her chair to hang on the rungs of mine. Zoey, I say, get down, sit in your own chair. Instead she pinches the skin on the back of my hand as she has done since birth, though she really favors my neck. The food falls off my fork. 1, 2, 3... I say, the deep foreboding of numbers a strange parental tradition for a girl that thinks thirty-thirteen is forty-three, though in a way I guess it is. I know that I am lucky, that my life is a snow globe shaken gently, diffused yellow light floating with motes of dust suspended on sunbeams full of kings and peasants, every saint and sinner, of every couple in love, that I am no different than you or Carl Sagan. But when I cannot speak for the plastic Barbie shoes in my throat it helps to sometimes say it, to voice the folly of my conceits. Right now, I do not want to be touched. These photographs of albatross chicks were made in September, 2009, on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.
To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent. --Chris Jordan, photographer