Hundreds of Purple Octopus Moms Are Super Weird, and They’re Doomed
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.