Lesson In A Language I Can’t Speak Yet
by Rita Gabis, from The Wild Field;Alice James Books, 1994
The jellyfish lies naked on the sand,
a circle I can see through to the bright harvest
of stones. On one side of it is white foam,
on the other black seagrass.
A gold line of sunlight circles the bay.
I don’t know how the life of a jellyfish begins,
I don’t know where its sex is,
or why the circle is its shape among
all the shapes in the world. The flesh-colored
armor of crabs dries on wet sand.
The snail retreats when I touch it.
The footprints I leave here are full of the vanished
weight of the body.
The heart of the jellyfish is clear,
I was born deaf to the sounds it makes, its cells that shine
next to the rough arms of the starfish,
the starfish that can regenerate
its severed limbs. I have entered
another country, where lost parts of myself re-form;
hatred from the same salty center as love,
desire that had been torn from me.
I have to be open to powers
I know nothing about.
Identity in small things,
the jellyfish that smells like the sea,
the sea that touches all corners of the earth at once,
holes in the sand where mussels breathe.