A jellyfish floats the ocean hallway
like a plastic bag on a breeze.
From the way it dances to the music,
you might say it is having a good time.
I had a good time once.
I was weightless in the Aegean,
convinced I was a mermaid
when a fish bit me on the toe.
In the turtle theater,
a head of lettuce drops
into the top of the tank.
The leatherbacks make their way.
In the cephalopod room,
I am getting used to the idea
that I know very little.
You’re allowed to eat soft-serve here.
A guide demonstrates squid locomotion
by drawing her fingers together and swooping along.
Mantle, siphon, tentacles. She leaves the room this way.
I believe my son is too young
to know how to play dead,
and yet there he is on the carpet,
prone before the only mollusks that bleed.
I lift him up, guide him to a sink,
and we wash our hands for the touch tank.
In the sea, life began again and again until it took.
Katharine Ogle lives in Los Angeles, where she is currently a Provost Fellow and PhD candidate at the University of Southern California. Her poems and critical work have been published in Quarterly West, Pleiades, Meridian, and others.