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That Morning Will Come: New & Selected Poems by Seamus Cashman

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Elegy for a dead jellyfish

Cashman, Seamus

Would anybody call you Beautiful? I asked a dead
    jellyfish on a cold morning—Saturday—in January,
    halfway along Portmarnock beach.

The opening sky rose behind Ireland’s Eye,
    turning chunkiness into 2-D
    blackness, flattened halfway out at sea.

High overhead a pair of cloud-9 clouds perched
    lowly in the yellowing silence, hovering, uncertain. 
    No wind. Nowhere else to go.

Quite suddenly, a glowing rim of intense ochre peered
    above the island hub. Surprise.
    I raised my arm to time its levitation.

Two minutes and five seconds saw this halo-hallowed-
    shimmer clear the island spine,
    free of earth and resurrected.

I never thought the universe could move so fast.

Now that was Beautiful. And the dead Jellyfish
    hadn’t noticed. It was dead of course.
    I toed it over to discover underneath.
    A rudimentary tentacle or something in its middle. 
    And mouth-like orifices by the rim
    conducting star-form musculature
    to a barely opaque gut. 
    For feeding?

I humped it back again and washed the crystal dome with wave. 
    Then squat and watched and saw what I had missed before—
    its mauves and violets blushing
    four domed-patterns to the rim.

My eye fixed on the creatures heavy immobility,
    hoping for some sign. 
    My finger traced its boundaries in the sand.

A shadow rose beside me to the dunes. I strode
    to fill my walk watching its distortions
    ripple on the beach.

‘Poor Jellyfish’, it sighed aloud,
    and gave me smiles, and told me
    look up to the clouds.


Copyright Seamus Cashman 2007

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