by Temple Cone

Tests of bravery, they were, thick-set clusters
Of glassy ooze drifting with river tides,
Trojans rallying at Hector’s muster
To strike any who crossed the plain (or tried).

Their stings were worse than death’s dart. A poultice
Of wet sand was triage, of salt the cure.
From the wharf, I’d watch for them to surface,
Count, then make a choice: swim or stay ashore.

But my father taught me to grip the bloom
Of pulsing jelly comb, to draw out ghosts
From black brackwater and then entomb
Them in sand or lay them on planks to roast,

Incandesce, and vanish in the scorching air.
I understood men did this. I, too, could dare.

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