The Aquarium



Take this map. Navigate the flat screen marine world. We have leveled the sea to the height of our eyes. Boxes of glass contain the sea, the tipping of it all held still. We point, we recite facts: class scyphoza genus chrysaora species quinquecirrha common name; sea nettle jellyfish – Humped against a perfect sky blue background lit by fluorescent lights. They look like fire, like slow motion flames, like split eggs with bloody streaks sliding on plates. A group of them is called a smack a bloom a swarm. The ocean current moves them to places where they can procreate. They are passive drifters. No pitch, roll or yaw for us; we want solid ground, straight lines. These jellies are blind with open mouths and long legs like a woman’s wet hair but with the power to sting like our laconic speech laced with certainty. The four horseshoe shapes on the dome are gonads. The stomach is exposed, transparent. A jelly fish on display can hide nothing. We are all seeing and a mole to our own world, we pour oil on our lives, make everything slick in our appetite for appetites. See us chew doughnuts, onion rings in front of this amber luminescence. We compare tentacles to strings of popcorn, we forget which way is up, a consequence of a long day fathoming ocean beds. This is the bargain we made when we bought our tickets, led our children in to examine these strangely named fish, bright cups of glory that swimmers eschew. We floated with crowds we are adapted to closed spaces. The jellies are not. We are stung, we are captured, we have come to know we are caught in the world’s pirouette.



- Kristen Wade