A Sonnet at The Edge of the Reef

Craig Santos Perez

the Waikīkī Aquarium

We dip our hands into the outdoor reef exhibit
and touch sea cucumber and red urchin
as butterflyfish swim by. A docent explains:
once a year, after the full moon, when tides swell
to a certain height, and saltwater reaches the perfect
temperature, only then will the ocean cue coral
polyps to spawn, in synchrony, a galaxy of gametes,
which dances to the surface, fertilizes, opens,
forms larvae, roots to seafloor, and grows, generation
upon generation. At home, we read a children’s
book, The Great Barrier Reef, to our daughter
snuggling between us in bed. We don’t mention
corals bleaching, reared in labs, or frozen.
And isn’t our silence, too, a kind of shelter?

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Craig Santos Perez is an indigenous Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is the author of five books of poetry and the co-editor of five anthologies. He is an associate professor in the English department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Through experimental forms, free verse, prose, haiku, sonnets, satire, and a method he calls “recycling,” Perez has created a diverse collection filled with passion. Habitat Threshold invites us to reflect on the damage done to our world and to look forward, with urgency and imagination, to the possibility of a better future.

"Essential. Read this book."
— Camille Dungy, poet and editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry

"Craig Santos Perez is a writer I seriously watch. He includes a variety of environmentally important writing, seamlessly combined with history, politics, and the familial."
— Linda Hogan, writer and environmentalist

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