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Wednesday, April 22, 2015


by Esther Greenleaf Murer

    Do not sink gently into fathomless grief
    at brilliancy of colors bleached to white;
    rage, rage against the dying of the coral reef.
elkhorn, staghorn, pineapple, red cauliflower, mushroom, precious red, blue, organpipe, star, brain, torch, cup, sun, bubble, cactus, column, finger, flowerpot, pillar, table, tube, stone, fire

    Before we've even plumbed the trove of life
    that shelters there, prey to manmade blight,
    we rampage, rampage, killing off the coral reef.

purple stovepipe sponge, striped cleaner wrasse, batwing coral crab, slipper sea cucumber, tomato clownfish, yellow nudibranch, magnificent feather duster, nurse shark, marine iguana

    At last we claim the ocean as our fief;
    ours is the absolute, God-given right
    to wage, wage war against the coral reef.

blue spotted sting ray, saddleback butterflyfish, sea whip, chambered nautilus, variable boring sponge, regal tang, purple sea urchin, olive ridley sea turtle, acropora crab, sharpnosed puffer

    When Gaia bore us, she produced a thief
    who, armed with outsize trawls and dynamite,
    would stage, stage the dying of the coral reef.

harlequin shrimp, reticulate brittle star, somber sweetlips, blue-ringed octopus, loggerhead turtle, minifin parrotfish, brown volcano carpet sponge, orange fireworm, flamingo tongue cowrie

    our legacies (and may our time be brief)
    of plastic scum and seas acidified
    presage, presage the dying of the coral reef.

deceiver fangblenny, chicken liver sponge, Christmas tree worm, yellow-bellied sea snake, zebra shark, flying gurnard, sunflower starfish, leafy sea dragon, spiny lobster, zooxanthellae

    The news continues dire, with no relief,
    no end to blind rapacity in sight.
    Do not sink gently into fathomless grief
    but rage, rage against the killing of the coral reef.

Esther Greenleaf Murer is a relic of the 20th century.  She was brought up on Thornton Burgess's Seashore Book for Children and has a lifelong interest in invertebrate paleontology.