There are places
In the deep dark sea
Where you can find thousands of female octopii
Fiercely defending their precious eggs.
If dinner doesn’t happen by for any particular female,
She won’t eat.
Days will pass with no sustenance;
She starts to go mad,
With a self-destructive slant:
She might tear her own skin off,
Groom herself obsessively
And snack on her own tentacles,
All the while stroking her eggs,
Sitting on them,
Lovingly caressing them with whispered water,
Staunchly fighting off the urge
To devour them as well.
But when her eggs finally hatch
She will blow them into a plankton cloud
To help ensure their survival.
Then she will die
By organic disassembly
And cellular suicide.
She will only live on in her orphaned offspring,
The females of which will grow to succumb to the exact same fate.
Yet succumb to this fate they do,
Generation after generation,
Without fail —
For the last few hundred million years.
The males don’t fare any better;
After mating once,
The clock starts ticking,
And inevitably stops after a few months.
Then it’s all over for them too.
Less (or more) fortunate males die right after mating,
Enduring a murderously cannibalistic assault by the female;
I’m not sure which manner of dying is worse.
I suppose that this is the cost
Of the continuation of their magnificent species.
They aren’t much into social connection —
It’s just far too complicated to be so.
*** You can stop thinking about death now, Sweet Cheeks. Winter is over. ***
*** Good. I was starting to envy octopii…. ***