when you feel its nearly unbearable
touch, the electric blue tentacle
reaching through water you thought
clear, on a day you thought calm.
Bob of the poison sac merry
as a balloon, and you whipped,
drawn on, flounder through shallows
marked with its signature,
back to the safe land.
Pain works its flower
and bloom in you
and won't let up, you will walk
for days with its tattoo'd
necklaces upon your skin,
saying here it is, what waits
this spring in the heated seas
where too much nutrient
feeds these creatures till
they cluster and swarm,
here is the sign at last
of what hooks the heart
to bump unevenly, to tell us
in the flesh, what's wrong.
Rosalind Brackenbury is English and has lived
in Key West, Florida, for the past 14 years. Her latest book
of poetry was "Yellow Swing" was published by John
Daniel, and a new novel "Becoming George Sand" will
be out from Doubleday, Canada, in August 2009. She is an invited
reader and panellist at the StAnza festival in St. Andrews,
Scotland, in March, and will be teaching a workshop at the
Robert Frost festival in Key West in April, 2009.