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Grunion Run
Rachel Dacus


Tonight all San Pedroís on the beach.
Bus drivers, teachers, kids, fishing
boat captains. Under this full moonís
grin, from Baja to Santa Barbara, they are due
to rise at midnight, ghosts from the sand.
Families toast marshmallows over fires
as we wait for a silver flash that says tiny fish
have materialized. So they say, but you know
grown-ups. Sheila says itís like snark-hunting,
a joke, but I think Jerryís right: grunion are poison.
Tonight, some of us will die.

Parents talk and drink. We squeal at the touch
of salt water on scabbed knees, squish around
in sluggish surf. Bored, the adults talk of leaving,
but then a shout rises down the beach.
Breathing holes appear between our toes.
Grunion! the call up and down the coast. We run,
footprints stitching sand and scoop up squirming sickles
that racket in our buckets. We dance, looting the sea.
Phosphorescent flickers mean the Red Tide is coming,
and weeks of no swimming. But for now itís all fireworks,
sea-spewed treasure for the taking.
We knew it! How easy life would be,
that they were wrong. And we jump to get rich quick.

From Femme Au Chapeau (David Robert Books, 2005)
Copyright by Rachel Dacus.
Used with the authorís permission.

Rachel Dacus is a poet, writer, and fundraising consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her books include the recent Gods of Water and Air (poetry, prose, and drama) and the collections Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau. She has written on many topics, from time travel to being a rocket scientist's daughter during the race-to-space 1950s. Learn more about Rachel at

Post New Comment:
such an interesting poem; I love it
Posted 03/29/2015 08:57 AM
Larry Schug:
Excellent! I'm going to explore more of your poetry, Rachel. This poem takes me back to a night in Huntington Beach, Ca., 1967.Thanks for the ride back.
Posted 03/29/2015 08:18 AM

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