A Love Letter to the Pacific Northwest Octopus
Oh, Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, don’t worry. We’re coming for you. Carla and I. We have bright blue Lisa Frank backpacks and we’ve packed them full of provisions. Food, for us and for you. Ritz cheese crackers, Mott's cardboard juice boxes, string cheese. Those are for us. For you: cans of SPAM and also some pickled eggs. We wanted raw eggs, but mom didn’t buy them this week, so we’ll have to make do.
Carla and I tromp though the rainforest, on Olympic Peninsula. The trees are so tall and so green, like lime Jell-O. The internet article we read said this is your home. Our brother, Richie, showed it to us. We read all about you.
Don’t worry, Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, this is also our home. We’ll protect it. This rainforest is temperate, Richie says. I think that means cold. We’ll protect this temperate rainforest, not like the way people protect the tropical ones way south of here. My teacher, Mrs. Adams, taught me all about them. She decorated my classroom with forest vines made out of brown paper and taught my class about endangered rainforest animals.
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, do you have brothers or sisters in the tropical rainforest? Or did you? Are they all gone from the tropical forests because we’ve cut down all the trees? I don’t mean Carla and I by “we,” I mean other humans. Carla and I would never do that. We love trees. And we love you, even though we’ve never seen you. That’s why we’re tromping through this forest in search of you.
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, having sisters is hard sometimes. Carla says she’s cold and tired. We’ve been looking for you for five hours. We had a big fight because she said she needed to turn back. She said she was hungry (our provisions are low). But I won’t let us turn back now, because I love you too much.
I love you because I know you’re a very good climber and you live high up in trees. You’re like an amphibian. That means you live part of your life in the water. When you’re a baby you grow in the water of Puget Sound. When you’re more grown up, your skin changes and it can suck water from the damp rainforest air. You breathe water, just like fish. I wish I could breathe water. I love to swim and climb, so you’d be a perfect pet.
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, Carla started crying, so I let her turn back. But now she’s alone and I’m alone. And I’m scared. For her and for me. But I want to come to tell you that you’ll be okay, because I think maybe you’re alone too. I’m coming to bring you food, so you don’t go extinct. That article said you’re endangered.
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, I’m cold and hungry. The shadows on the trees look like monsters. I think I’m in danger.
But don’t worry, Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, I’m still coming for you.
Michelle Donahue has a B.S. in environmental biology and she learned all about the tragedy of the Tree Octopus in her ecology class. She currently is an MFA candidate in creative writing and environment at Iowa State University where she is the incoming managing editor of Flyway. Her work has appeared in Whiskey Island, Menacing Hedge and others.
All rights reserved to Michelle Donahue.