MEDUSA

(New England Aquarium)

Like fireworks, but alive,
a nebula exploding
over and over in a liquid sky,
this undulant soft bell
of jellyfish glowing orange
and trailing a baroque
mane of streamers, so
exquisite in its fluid
movements you can't pull
your body away, this lucent
smooth sexual organ
ruffled underneath
like a swimming orchid,
offers you a second-
hand ecstasy, saying
you can only get
this close by being
separate, you can only
see this clearly
through a wall of glass,
only imagine
what it might be like
to succumb to something
beyond yourself,
becoming nothing
but that pulsing,
your whole being reduced
to the medusa,
tentacled tresses flowing
entangled in a slow-motion
whiplash of rapture—
while you stand there,
an onlooker
turning to stone.

by Jeffrey Harrison

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