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  • Sea Star
  • Ned Balbo (bio)

We know that under warmer conditions, they die faster.

—Magan Crane,, September 2015

In water cobalt-blue a sea star melts, its five rays torn away to join the silt’s   suspension, sand, and clay, a spent core all that’s left; and when it wilts, imploding into white pulp, nothing else   remains—a mystery

whose cause we fear.......Some poison in the pulse of coastal waves, some pathogen in swells   sun-warmed and placid? Why would constellations die amid the shells   and octopi, volcanic barnacles and dim aquatic sky

where satellites collide in silent trails? The star’s a predator. It targets snails,   vulnerable prey slow-moving, stationary. Clasped, it pulls small armored shells apart before it kills   piecemeal, deliberately:

the stomach through its mouth extends and fills, withdraws again, digesting. What foretells   its own fate undersea? Whole colonies, as if devoured, convulse, dividing, dying in some fatal impulse,   nothing we can see

responsible . . . What’s killing auklets, gulls, egrets, an ark’s escort of flailing mammals—   bruised sea lions who lie beached on Pacific shores? Is it the krill’s [End Page 85] diminishment, or something else that fails   or breaks down in decay,

invisible to see? A sea star melts, its flesh dissolving in a sea where guilt’s   past knowledge, astral body trapped in place, split from an eye that dwells where each ray terminates and twilight falls   or fades uncertainly. [End Page 86]

Ned Balbo

ned balbo’s The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Story Line Press) received the Donald Justice Prize and the Poets’ Prize. His previous books are Lives of the Sleepers (Ernest Sandeen Poetry Prize) and Galileo’s Banquet. A new book, Upcycling Paumanok, is due out in 2016 from Measure Press. He currently teaches in the MFA program in creative writing and environment at Iowa State University.



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pp. 85-86
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