As soon as she enters the blue waters
the younglings know Grandma is coming
to visit. Fingerlings and fry
dart close but then hang back just
a little, while hatchlings
and spawn swarm past her,
halo that tickles
her skin, her shape, her strange
tail-like legs silhouetted.
Laughing soundlessly, she waves them
away from her face, then slowly pulses
her hands and feet in unison, as if
they are small flippers, stabilizing
her position in the current.
Later, when the small ones leave
to play, or feed, or fight,
or sleep, she and those
older ones slip
and sway, blurring
their mute hands dancing
in a silent grownup
conversation. The kelp blades
dance with them, delicious forest
of fronds and friends. No one remembers
who it is that first asks the question, Where
are the sweet waters going? What would
we eat if we move to the deeps?
What about the eldest of
elders who no longer
swim strong, but simply
place themselves where
will bring to them?
Deep into the dark
they talk and make plans, hands
even as their skin begins to
glow, the shadows of the wavering
seaweed carve their light in thin strips that move
and glide, a mirage that fools none of them.
This is part of Rita’s belated birthday present.