deep blue


"The cleaner wrasse get rid of dirt and parasites inside the potato cod's mouth," the voiceover says. We watch the school of tiny wrasse enter the cod's waiting mouth, swimming straight into dangerous territory. "In return," the voiceover continues, "the potato cod agrees not to eat them." On cue, the screen shows the disgruntled-looking cod opening its mouth to release the smaller fish unharmed. We laugh, surprised and impressed and relieved; somehow we are glad that the potato cod does not turn out to be a predator, that the cleaner wrasse get to keep on living.

Later that evening I ask you how you suppose symbiotic relationships begin. "How do they even know when to start?" I ask. "How can they be sure they won't hurt each other?" We are intertwined, the way one would cling to a raft after being thrown overboard, when you say, "They must have some sort of instinct." Your hands feel warm on my back, and your voice is softer than it usually is. Outside the rain is heavy, unforgiving, but in this room we float. There are strange and beautiful creatures under the sea that nobody has discovered just yet. I think about how our days are oceans of swirling possibilities, deep and blue and full. You tell me, "They know who to trust."