Julie Jeanell Leung
August 2014 Flashes
Julie Jeanell Leung's creative nonfiction has been published in the Bellingham Review and her essays have been selected as a finalist for the Annie Dillard Creative Nonfiction Award and also as a finalist for the Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize. She is a student in the Rainier Writing Workshop, the MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.
I don’t envy barnacles for the facts I learned about them in biology class. I’m not jealous of their enormous sex organ, the largest penis relative to body size in the animal kingdom. And since I’m not a dentist, I don’t seek to imitate their cement, the underwater adhesive in their glands, one of the most durable aqueous bonds in biology. No, I confess I envy barnacles for characteristics I attribute to them with my human imagination. How courageous this arthropod is, attaching head-first with intense cement while still a larva, making a commitment it cannot break. And a barnacle can commit to anything: rubber tire, plastic trash, piling, clamshell, crab, boat hull, humpback whale. I envy its bravery, versatility, and resilience. Biofouling, scientists may call it, but I say the ubiquity of barnacles is beautiful. I’m jealous of this animal’s ability to encrust ordinary objects with gems of calcium carbonate, creating art and habitats. Does a barnacle regret its choice? Does it ever second-guess itself? Wonder why it attached where it did? No, I don’t think it can. Maybe I should envy that too.