In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Octopus, and: Anemone, and: Oceans, and: Melt
  • Lisa Williams (bio)
  • Octopus
  • Lisa Williams

You are all agility in my mind. It takes just seconds

for you to figure out a jar, unscrew its lid, closed, stubborn things

no match for your prying suctions. I wonder if ideas can crack

in the same way that a jar’s seal does? From my room, I can conceive of your

splayed arms gravely combing water’s bluish weight,

your skin’s striations vacillating as you shudder

from one long shadow at the seafloor to another. I believe your head

is bulbous as a human infant, that you have a surface temperament

tender as a heart’s and as quick to judge, that you live

shrunken without touch, indrawn softly from rock walls, where you cogitate

in hollows until provoked by some mutable figment,

stung out of your dreaming to veils of seawater and silt. [End Page 32]

You raise furious color wheels, a spectral vibrancy

like Ezekiel’s cherubim when afraid.—Not so different

from the grasping mind. Except that you are arms following mind. [End Page 33]

  • Anemone
  • Lisa Williams

To first see you is to be numbed by the fluid weaponry of your arms

lilting and falling in the tidepool’s sheer excitements—.

You are the hue of delicatest violet, fierce persimmon, solipsistic blue.

Above the womblike, rippling chamber of obvious tendrils, some new

visitor sails, your mouth hidden, motive and its engines concealed.

The curiosity hovers, entranced by tentacled finery, or simply dumb.

With transparent inattention, a gleam of scaled import, it brushes you—

whereby you shoot fiery veins of toxin to the tips

of your arms, expel an arrow that stuns, then pulls to the core.

Almost anything that touches you is yours. How can you seem

foreign to us who so often surround, draw forward, and then close

over things we love, even as we gesture to them as a separate body?

I know this need to encompass and seize with delirium’s lines. [End Page 34]

  • Oceans
  • Lisa Williams

Lunge because of the vacuum you live in, and because the neglected edges you touch with your rim

brood bodies you’ve protected, twined vitals in the mass of waters dragged behind you.

Sharp or gelatinous, so much I consider true darts or spirals in your hived

enclosures, your long-held obsessions swollen to repetitive unfoldings. You’re the heroine’s

encounters with an obstacle, imaginings spun to a fringe outside of which its figures crawl,

prodded by a lowly moon. Don’t simplify. Stay wavering and many, a full spectrum’s harbor

more than azure indolence, each drop for each occasion your inviolable firmament. [End Page 35]

  • Melt
  • Lisa Williams

If I could enter what I long for, true coursing, blown North,

some passage I believe is fluid without the stops of intellect,

I’d be a glacier disassembling into liquid, icy grains

awash and running, freed from rigid doubt into one bead

of travel, cold without pain, removed from but akin

to others in a witless flux of continuing, scrambled syntax

whose translation is diluted, whose value is all go

uncontrived, arrow of happenstance, inebriated flow,

and where I would be riding would not be justified, there would be

no reason for it, I can tell you— extemporary motion,

the going and the being gone to sea. [End Page 36]

Lisa Williams

“I continue to write about the sea. ‘Anemone’ and ‘The Octopus’ were informed by the work of Ernst Haeckel, a ninteenth-century follower of Darwin who was torn between zoology and painting. He chose zoology but combined his love for both in observation-based, aesthetically driven illustrations of the natural world, which were admired and influential in his day. Haeckel’s robust, highly organized depictions of marine life, animals and organisms help me understand how much we want to see these things as beautiful and orderly. I also watched footage of both creatures on YouTube to help with...


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