Old pier wood creaked and groaned
as we amble-danced in the yellow
circles cast by our flashlights-
pale reflection of the glittering, pure-bright
scintillations gleaming above in
softened obsidian sky.
The chug-purring launch bounced softly in the current.
We streamed in
took a seat along the sides.
In quickened laugh-talk,
we jabbered our way into open water.
Lanterns illumed the sea on either side of our craft,
luring a lambent chum of glowing plankton,
drawn like watery moths-
A silver shape sliced an angle across the water!
schools of silvery squid slashing the borders of light,
quick sentient missiles.
“Shhh,” Preston, our leader, shhh’d us
“I heard a sea lion over there”
As she said it,
I heard the sharp blow of expelled breath.
Subdued, we waited.
Something gray broke the water
Then rocketing, rolling
snatched a squid and sped into the dark.
It must have dove deep,
the other side of the boat never saw it.
I got a good, close look-
the barreling body rolling joyously in the hunt
It came again! Then again!
We were all standing, straining to see.
Reluctantly, I yielded my place to a person
from the other side
and then, suddenly,
there were three!
They streaked beneath us repeatedly
till the captain finally doused the light and
steered us pier side.
After the lab where we squinted
over fresh plankton slides
watching microscopic monsters
devour each other,
I thought of those playful, happy sea lion faces,
how they moved so freely,
Independent of gravity it seemed.
How they live without pockets
or oppressive politics.
I was glad I got to see them
Before Fukushima radiation
spread across the sea-
Our unreturnable gift to them.