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Poetry — Issue #3

A Sonnet at the Edge of the Reef


A Sonnet at the Edge of the Reef

We dip our hands into the outdoor reef exhibit
and touch sea cucumber and red urchin
as butterflyfish swim by. A docent explains:
once a year, after the full moon, when tides swell
to a certain height, and saltwater reaches the perfect
temperature, only then will the ocean cue coral
polyps to spawn, in synchrony, a galaxy of gametes,
which dances to the surface, fertilizes, opens,
forms larvae, roots to seafloor, and grows, generation
upon generation. At home, we read a children’s
book, The Great Barrier Reef, to our daughter
snuggling between us in bed. We don’t mention
corals bleaching, reared in labs, or frozen.
And isn’t our silence, too, a kind of shelter?