You pick up a stick, jabbing it into the thick puddle
of jellyfish melting into warm sand, watching it shiver back into stillness.
You tell me that soon it will evaporate; by tomorrow
when we take the same walk along the shore, it won’t be here anymore.
We stand there staring at it,
speaking eventually, our mouths full of salt,
before a sea stretch we can only imagine: underwater
caves full of colorless fish
(their gaping mouths—)
hundreds of species neither of us will ever see.
We speak of the possibilities that ruined them,
perhaps a tuna fishing vessel, yes, something vast
and heartless. A purse-seine net snapping
shut and we imagine them swimming,
an entire school of tuna, and maybe
these jellyfish floating into the net,
venom twitching at the tips of their tentacles,
when their entire bodies were flashing, distant stars in the fog of the sea,
tentacles of water, swirling in water,
barely distinguishable in their bubbling movements, their light weight.
Here, the baggy lumps melt
at our also-shriveling feet.
You toss the stick into the water,
your heavy hand tries to comb through the tangles of my hair
as we watch it float back and forth,
our bodies still uncaught.
Nadra Mabrouk holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida International University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Teen Writing of 2010, published by The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, The Boiler Journal, RHINO, and others. Her chapbook, How Things Tasted When We Were Young, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in spring of 2016.