no messages were etched in the sand—
no lovers or children
dragging twigs through the grains.
we were left with cargo ships
rounding the harbor,
left standing amidst a plume of the dead,
sunlight stinting off bodies
the color of melting glass. i admit
it was sunset. i looked at them
to keep from looking at you.
those trailings purpling
black, manubrium collapsed,
nerve net flinching
like a touch-me-not. you didn’t answer
when i asked which of us
is more poisonous.
some had lost their luminosity & lay
the mesoglea’s edges frayed
& milky white,
the whole gelatinous mass
disfigured, less umbrella-shaped
than a shriveling flower
at half-wilt. slowly we inched
close, toed them with sandy shoes.
watched them shudder in response,
wobble back to stillness. look
how i can describe a dying thing
without once saying your name.