Bioluminescence

We had dinner on October 24th at Plum Island Grille in Newburyport, MA to celebrate a birthday with friends. And then a walk on the beach in the full moonlight; soul syncing with the rhythm of the waves. Poseidon was not storming the seas this evening, but in the mood for romance, each wave like a caress upon the neck of his sea-nymph and consort, Amphitrite. Her white laced collar frilled out at our feet with each moan of this ocean god. We were quieted, prayer-like, in this open air tabernacle. And then this goddess of the sea cast off some of the pearls in her necklace onto the shore. Perhaps they were an answer to our silent beseechings or the consequence of such passionate lovemaking in the ocean. I checked an astronomy calendar and read that there was an Orionids meteor shower from October 20th to the 24th that produced about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. I wasn’t looking up in the sky this night because Zeus was holding the moon torch to spotlight the drama below, and fragments of light, pieces of stars, jewels, or whatever it was that can be explained or unexplained, captured my attention, mind, and heart.

More than likely, this phenomenon was bioluminescence, light that is caused when a light-emitting molecule, called luciferin, is mixed with an enzyme in the presence of oxygen. According to Wikipedia, this is quite common and nearly all groups of animals and some plants have some members that give off light. Luciferin comes from the Latin word, lucifer, meaning ‘bearer of light.’ Why do these creatures create light, emit light, and give me delight? It varies, but it all comes down to attraction and advertising. A fast flash to startle a predator or a dance of seduction for prey.

Light givers we are…word play, the foreplay posted on a blog, on a wall, on a site. Neon twinklings and twitters. We can’t help ourselves. It is in our nature to puff out, publicize, pitch, and plug. We’ll even eat the light in another fellow fish. Sometimes a soft glow and sometimes a blinding light. Which is it? What shall I write? Titillating sex and bloodthirsty vampires? Does marketplace madness extinguish the light?

“Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.”
— T.S. Eliot

And T.S. Eliot also said that without the still point, there is no dance. The dance and light of words. I say the hell with it all and be true to the light-emitting animal I am. Easier said than lived. I am, however, not unaware of what happened to one bearer of light, whose name we all know well. Lucifer, once bearer of light, fallen from light. I read that fish and some squid create light by keeping small cultures of luminescent bacteria in special organs around their bodies. The bacteria are shining all the time and so much that the animals have created flaps of skin that work like window shades to control their luminescence. We are animals, but human so; thus, we can pull the curtain up or down on our light. Sometimes, it gets stuck half way up or won’t roll up at all. That’s alright. I need a break, but sometimes I take it down and let all the light in at once.

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About cynthianeale

My fourth novel in The Irish Dresser Series, The Irish Milliner, is being released by Fireship Press on June 2, 2017. The third book in the series is 'Norah, The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th Century New York,' (Fireship Press)) and two young adult historical fiction novels, 'The Irish Dresser' and 'Hope in New York City.' I have also written plays, essays, and short stories. I am a native of the Finger Lakes region in New York and now reside in New Hampshire. What do I especially enjoy? Reading, writing, Irish set dancing, waltzing, walking, learning about nature, some traveling, Irish sean nos dancing, art classes and painting, baking fanciful desserts, kayaking, growing flowers, creating events for food, dance, and fund raising, laughing until it hurts, and dreaming about possibilities.
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