You can’t have the ocean without blue.
I walk at night, that’s the time of year
the grunion run, a silver school teaching us that it’s
work to populate –the small shimmer of a female screwing herself into
the sand. I wish her blue. She wooshes three thousand eggs
into the hole she’s made, her birthing room. The males circle her, and fertilize the eggs with a hug. The males leave and the female is quiet.
Then she flips and flops herself back and forth and forth and back,
side flopping to the ocean.
I wish her blue. I wish her free. I bless the eggs.
Southern California in the summer is grunion. Every
full moon, every new moon. Here we are with
the moon’s aperture open.
The silver fish stacked five deep—
a Walker Five, the aquarist says.
And all of this, all of this is to populate the world
with grunion. To take this risk to create grunion.
There are people here with nets and buckets—
that’s illegal. You are only supposed to capture them with your hands but
whole families are at the beach under a midnight sky. I want to stop them, and then again,
I don’t. I hope that what they catch, they eat.
I squat on the beach protecting a female fish in the dark.
I wish her blue. I wish her free. I wish her the next day after this night.
I squat around this one female thinking of that story of the man who turned over a turtle
on the beach and was criticized because there were hundreds of turtles on that beach
needing to be turned over and he said, I can do this one.
I squat around this female grunion and wait for her to flip flop her way back and forth
out of the hole she’s dug with her own tail; and into which she deposited her eggs.
We sit with the moon watching over us as the eggs are fertilized, the males leave,
and she valiantly wriggles her way out of the hole and tries to catch
the next wave …home.
It is so much work to populate the world.
Deep wells and we all release our eggs–whatever they are—
our eggs, our dreams when we sleep awake, our books when we write them,
our children when we birth them
our lives as we live them and we nurture them and release them into the world.
Risking everything, everything. This is what women do. This is the hard work.
The work of making the world over and over and over.
My favorite color is blue.
California, June 2021
(Thanks to Surprise the Line Poetry Workshop
Writer’s Shadow: The Divine Feminine, with Armine Iknadossian)
Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.