Life, death and sea lions

Sea lions in Monterey Bay, California. ©Erica Cirino

Sea lions in Monterey Bay, California. ©Erica Cirino

In the early morning haze

I watch a hundred or more

Wet, round, brown bodies 

Flip, flop and shimmy

Through sparkling blue waves.

Sea lions.

They are gaping, gasping for air 

As they heft their mass across the sea. 

I had, up to that point,

No idea that sea lions were capable

Of such a laborious task,

Normally I see them socializing or

Resting on rock rookeries.

Out here they must move fast

To avoid sharks and killer whales.

By the speed at which they move

I can tell they are clearly aware

Of the possibility of attack.

And so I contemplate

Whether or not sea lions 

Live in fear of death, 

Like so many people do.

Or if they just forge ahead,

Heaving up and out of the water,

Straight into a place of danger–

Of sharks and killer whales–

Driven by the necessities 

Of finding food

And a place to rest 

And breed and build a life.

I do not think sea lions

Live in fear because 

Even the imminence of death

Does not hold them back 

From diving into the unknown.

Today the sea lions appear full of life

Because they live without fear. 

Originally published to Medium on October 7, 2017.