you ever seen jellyfish
from rubbery domes
a kid I toed the gelatinous
of the ones
washed up on the beach.
then, my mind went to the sea often,
and pitch black
for the angler fish
things with its glowing lure.
saw it close its teeth around prey
the cilia of a venus fly trap.
saw great swaths of plankton
neon, turning the waves
blue, bright red.
the jellyfish suctioned by,
bodies bulging like parachutes
stringy limbs drifting behind.
my head I swam among these ancient,
by their ugly beauty,
in the tides of color,
knew I had been floating there
half a billion years.
Hayes is an English instructor at Eastern University in St. Davids,
Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Nimrod International
Journal of Poetry and Prose and has been performed at the Kimmel Center
|I wrote this
poem from a prompt that I gave my creative writing students:
“Which piece of land would you wish to have preserved forever and
why?” I realized that my answer wasn’t land at all,
but ocean. I’ve always been awestruck by the sea,
particularly deep sea creatures—their sometimes vibrant colors,
their brilliant adaptations. I wrote down a few phrases in
response to the prompt. Then, as usually happens, I became
haunted by the sounds of certain words, in this case “gelatinous
insides.” I also knew I wanted to give an honest effort at
trying to describe the strange, but agile way jellyfish move through
the water. The poem took shape from there.