Ed Higgins

Grunion Fishing

“Of course, most of the things I look back on fondly I never actually experienced.”

–Jon Favreau

As spilled on a sandy Corona del Mar beach
both in moonlight and starlight so lovely
and strangely sad as if receding still
on the waves there in lost time or no time at all
except for nostalgia now, or as it actually happened maybe
those flickerings of pale silver on thousands of grunion
making the whole surf-pounded beach alive
with the magic incandescence of slender wriggling fish.

And we two once waiting under bluish moonlight at high tide
that long summer’s night ago while giddy in the crashing waves
with scooping up whole handfuls of slippery small fish
into buckets bright with overflowing moon.

Using flashlights so as not to scare the fish
watching the female arching her body
as her tail sinks deep into the fluid sand
while the male curls around her
milt flowing down her silvery sides and belly
fertilizing buried eggs beneath.

Then later wrapped in one another’s arms
listening to the sound of ourselves
pounding in our veins as the waves recede.

Overwhelmed ever after by the ability to catch
starlight’s incandescence ourselves:
far-traveling light and flecks of photon stars
which must stay momentarily or even forever in the mind.

All beneath the spawning of that bright above us night sky
on a warm California beach.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Oh, my! On Beauty? Whatever it is (or isn’t), we seem hardwired to do an ooooh, wow, or aaaaah whenever it intrudes on our consciousness. Which seems pretty often, if my personal experience of Beauty is any measure of the normal. Early this morning frisbeeing with my whippet (Mr. Toffee) I noticed the pasture we were playing in had collected overnight dew on dozens of ground spider webs. Didn’t see any spiders, but the numerous dew illuminated webs, most maybe palm size and scattered all about in the five acre fall hayfield, made me do a wow at the ephemeral beauty that would soon vanish with the warming sun. The webs and the spiders would still be there, of course, once the illuminating dew had been chased off, but at that startle-noticed moment this was an unexpected, fairy-like Beauty gift. And then there was the Beauty of my whippet snatching with classic dog-leaping skill several frisbee tosses in our morning exercise routine. Countless times I’ve played frisbee with Mr. Toffee but I never lose the ooooh of the Beauty of this lithe, quick animal racing across the field after a flying plastic disk, leaping in the air with the grace of a Olympic gymnast to muzzle-snap with uncanny precision that spinning, flung object of our mutual pleasure. Mine, I suppose, more aesthetic than his, but maybe not. As a farmer, I frequently aaaaah over the singular Beauty of a multi-hued hen’s feather arrangement/pattern, and often of the aesthetics of a brown freckled egg extracted from a nest box, even though egg collecting’s a daily experience. And few things hold more Beauty-in-Nature for me than a newly born Jersey calf, with wide, dark eyelashes the envy of any classical geisha, in art or real life. For pure aesthetic ooooooh, a baby pig’s a positively Beautiful little critter, both whimsical in its miniature porcine cuteness and evoking a hardwired Beauty response to its shiny newness of what I think of as a pig-puppy. A week-old Nubian goat—with those long floppy ears and perfect Roman nose–is also not only a tactile experience of Beauty to stroke and hold while bottle feeding, but a wow-delight of Beautiful capricious, bounding energy and form. As a farmer-poet I’m frequently drawn to the whatever-it-is-Beauty of the barnyard animals surrounding my life and lifestyle. Sometimes just sitting late at the kitchen table listening for poems that may be blowing up from the barn where our Jersey milch cow should give birth on a given spring night, and I have to go down to check she’s ok. I’m always thought fishing for the images, color, scent, sound or metaphors that hook an elusive Beauty into a poem or story. So, while I can’t say with any definiteness what, or why, Beauty is, I try to be alert to what I—and all of us—seem to be hardwired to often enough catch. And be enriched by.


The poems and short fiction of Ed Higgins have appeared in various print and online journals including: Monkeybicycle, Tattoo Highway, Word Riot, Triggerfish Critical Review, and Blue Print Review, among others. He lives with his wife on a small farm in Yamhill, Oregon, raising a menagerie of animals including two whippets, a manx barn cat (who doesn’t care for the whippets), two Bourbon Red turkeys (King Strut and Nefra-Turkey), and an alpaca named Machu-Picchu. He teaches literature at George Fox University and serves as Asst. Fiction Editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction, an Ireland-based flash journal.