Features, Poems

Paisley Rekdal: “Hall of Sea Nettles”

Paisley RekdalPaisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee and three books of poetry, A Crash of Rhinos, Six Girls Without Pants and The Invention of the Kaleidoscope. A hybrid photo-text memoir that combines poems, nonfiction and fiction entitled Intimate is forthcoming from Tupelo. Her work has received a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, an NEA Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, the University of Georgia Press’ Contemporary Poetry Series Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and the Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review. Her poems and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and on National Public Radio among others.


Hall of Sea Nettles

+++++Darkness indicates
there’s beauty to be praised
in these displays of bell-
+++++shaped blooms
+++++that float through rooms
of indigo lit

+++++so as to stage the fragile
colors: violet whips and pale
mouth tentacles: trails
+++++of blush peach lace
+++++that flume the upturned,
tumbled cups–

+++++A guide proclaims
their heads– part
water, part collagen–
+++++lack excess bits
+++++like bones or brains (Stupid
as the senate
, one onlooker

+++++quips), whose charm lies in
how subtly they move.
Proved by this gap-mouthed crowd
+++++of various ages pressed
+++++together in the gloom to catch
each sinuous

+++++unloosening, a sash
of pink nerve net or vellum
ribbon tossed by sudden
+++++jetted sprays.
+++++Every jelly
shivers, streams.

+++++A parent snaps
as one boy’s finger
steams at the glass.

Mothers emphasize the sting.

~~~