Rochelle Nameroff

            She wants the evidence,
to know what happens. The collapse
of the engine of lungs, or a rash of tiny pinpricks

along the spine. Stung, the smack
as if thrashed with a whip, a mirror
for the tentacle. The victim is a mirror

and must keep looking. The child
with her arms bent back for her sins,
now a bracelet of welts worn under sleeves.

She used to poke them with a stick
after the waves made them obey, their
translucency hued like a party,

and blowing. Something to fly away in,
So like placentas—

                              She would be found
in a closet behind the coats,
dressed in her punishment clothes:

the dark blue jumper and ruffled blouse,
the short white socks and Mary Janes.
Pretty things to show a mother.

So beautiful, like caresses riding the waves.
Like hair which throttles in dreams.
The Sea Nettles, with their milk-white arms

hanging down around the mouth, the bell
a dress worn by dolls. Hit with a brush,
with a dull brown strap, she knows her beauty.

Better killers than sharks are the Sea Wasps.
A poison directed to the heart. There are reports
Of scar formation, and prolonged,

near fatal darkening of the wound.
The beautiful must show an image of survival,
autumn the loveliest bruise—