“Section B, Page 6” by Meryl Stratford

Meryl Stratford


No news is good news, or so it was
for the horseshoe crab, four hundred fifty
million years, while the dinosaurs came

and then went. Now they’re making the news:
how we use them as bait, grind them up
for fertilizer, destroy their habitat,

but their ancient blood detects endotoxins,
makes possible our flu shots,
pacemakers, and hip joint replacements.

We are the aliens, newly arrived
on earth with our gleaming technology,
capturing them for our laboratories

where white-coated technicians
drain that precious blue blood.
Returned to the ocean, some survive the encounter.

There is a mystery in their mating,
something essential in the sand;
we don’t know what it is nor how

they know it’s there. He comes ashore
at high tide when the moon is full
and waits for her, clings to her

while she lays her many eggs. The ocean
and the moonlight are one. The ocean and the moonlight
and the horseshoe crabs are one. They are

Aphrodite’s children, spawned
at the dawn of our world when the goddess of love
rose, naked, from foam on the sea.

Poets Respond
April 19, 2015

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Meryl Stratford: “With thoughts of Earth Day, April 22: Sometimes you’ll find, in an inconspicuous place in the paper, news of a scientific report; such stories interrupt our 24/7 cycle to tell us about events happening on a different time scale. This week’s story (‘Horseshoe crab faces threats from pollution, development‘) is another illustration of what we are doing to this planet, endangering a creature that has thrived here for so very long.”

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of a project in which poets respond to current events. A poem written within the last week about an event that occurred within the last week will appear every Sunday at Rattle.com. Our only criterion for selection is the quality of the poem, not its editorial position; any opinions expressed are solely those of the poet and do not necessarily reflect those of Rattle’s editors. To read poems from past weeks, visit the Poets Respond page. Interact on our Facebook group. To have a poem considered for next week’s posting, submit it here before midnight Friday PST.

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