I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade.
The article called it “a spectacle.” More like a garden than a nursery:
hundreds of purple octopuses protecting clusters of eggs
while clinging to lava rocks off the Costa Rican coast.
I study the watery images: thousands of lavender tentacles
wrapped around their broods. Did you know there’s a female octopus
on record as guarding her clutch for 53 months? That’s four-and-a-half years
of sitting, waiting, dreaming of the day her babies hatch and float away.
I want to tell my son this. He sits on the couch next to me clutching his phone,
setting up a hangout with friends. The teenage shell is hard to crack.
Today, my heart sits with the brooding octomoms: not eating, always on call,
always defensive, living in stasis in waters too warm to sustain them.
No guarantees they will live beyond the hatching. Not a spectacle
but a miracle any of us survive.
Copyright © 2019 by January Gill O’Neil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
When the doctor suggested surgery
and a brace for all my youngest years,
my parents scrambled to take me
to massage therapy, deep tissue work,
osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine
unspooled a bit, I could breathe again,
and move more in a body unclouded
by pain. My mom would tell me to sing
songs to her the whole forty-five minute
drive to Middle Two Rock Road and forty-
five minutes back from physical therapy.
She’d say, even my voice sounded unfettered
by my spine afterward. So I sang and sang,
because I thought she liked it. I never
asked her what she gave up to drive me,
or how her day was before this chore. Today,
at her age, I was driving myself home from yet
another spine appointment, singing along
to some maudlin but solid song on the radio,
and I saw a mom take her raincoat off
and give it to her young daughter when
a storm took over the afternoon. My god,
I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel
that I never got wet.
From The Carrying (Milkweed Editions, 2018) by Ada Limón. Copyright © 2018 by Ada Limón. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions. milkweed.org.