On Nomenclature

But it was only slightly more realistic than searching
for the Holy Grail, by which I mean it was utterly ridiculous.
On a small ship, sailing to Lima, we were told repeatedly

to keep an eye out for the Blue-footed Booby. Even the name
seemed outrageous—but nature assigned no such moniker,
humans did. The Blue-footed Booby, we were told, is

often sighted plunging head first into the sea here and, yes,
it really does have light blue feet, brighter in youth
and a duller blue as the birds age. Nature invented ageism

and, apparently, humans invented preposterous names.
Case in point: the woman who, minutes after I delivered
her baby girl, announced she would be named Marksalot.

She named her daughter after the fluorescent highlighter
on her bed stand. Out over a gunmetal sea, there was not
a bird in sight: no pelicans, no gulls, and not a single

Blue-footed Booby. Despite hours of staring through tiny
binoculars, we never saw one. We saw only waves.
It has been years since that day sailing into Lima,

and I couldn’t explain to you exactly why this memory
decided to present itself to me now, except that here,
out over the Pacific, not a single bird can be seen. Instead,

we have the Blue Angels thundering out over the Golden Gate
practicing for their Fleet Week show tomorrow. The jets
don’t really seem that blue, so I have to assume

they are old. And though they stream through the skies,
nothing about them seems angelic. And I wonder
if there is something angelic about the Blue-footed Booby.

Like angels, they are rare and rarely seen. One must be
desperate, I believe, to see one, the way poor Joseph was
when an angel of the Lord appeared to him to ensure

he understood his wife was carrying the Son of God.
Joseph named the child Jesus, though I am told it was really
Yeshua. One of them means rare, means worth more than gold.

C. Dale Young

C. Dale Young

C. Dale Young is the author of four books of poetry and The Affliction, a novel in stories just published by Four Way Books. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, he practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.
C. Dale Young

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Author: C. Dale Young

C. Dale Young is the author of four books of poetry and The Affliction, a novel in stories just published by Four Way Books. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, he practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.