Why now, under seven fathoms of sea,with sunlight just a sheen on its carapace
and someone's dark paddle stroking above?Why, at this moment, does it lift from the reef
its serrated jaws, its four undulant,tendril arms—the fifth atomized
by a predator's nudge—to beginthe body's slow unbuckling? Near the reef
a kick-dust of plankton hovers. And eel grass.And far down the sea floor, the true starfish
in their dank, illegible constellations.What salt-rich analgesic allows
this self-division, as the disc partsand tendril arms, each with a thousand
calcite eyes, sway into slender helixes?Half disc and half disc. Limb pair; limb pair.
Two thousand eyes; two thousand crystal eyes—that must notice now the emergent other,
aslant but familiar, slowly swimming away:its butterflied, genetic list, its tendency
toward luminescence. Limb over limb,where is it headed? And when will its absence
echo, adrift in the sea's new weight?Half shape; half shape—how far will it stroke
before loss, like daylight, lessens,and the one that remains twines its optic arms
to look to the self for completion?