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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

A Sonnet at The Edge of the Reef

by Craig Santos Perez

at the Waikīkī Aquarium


Our daughter dips her hands into the reef

exhibit—touches a sea cucumber and red urchin

as butterflyfish swim by. A docent explains: one night

a year, after the full moon, after the tide rises

to a certain height, after saltwater reaches the right

temperature, only then the ocean will cue swollen

polyps to spawn, in synchrony, a galaxy

of gametes, which will surface, open, fertilize,

form larvae, root to seafloor, and grow generation

upon generation. At home, we read a children’s

book, The Great Barrier Reef, to our daughter

snuggling between us in bed. There’s no mention

of corals bleaching, reared in labs, or frozen

in vaults. And isn’t that, too, a kind of shelter?

Published: July 2019
Craig Santos Perez

is an indigenous Chamorro poet from the Pacific Island of Guam. He is the author of four collections of poetry and the co-editor of five anthologies. He is an associate professor in the English department at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.