Three thousand feet down where
an unmanned vehicle probes
the ocean like an endoscope,
a sudden carnival float ripples
into view: Siphonophore!
The scientists all rotate toward
the monitor, open-mouthed
as shepherds at the hush of wings
not grown for any air we know.
Siphonophore. Free of all
hard parts, including that nugget
the self. Corporate being
whose members are truly members—
as organs in a body, most
made of clear gelatinous tissue
through which, lurid as a sunrise,
the digestive apparatus winds.
Some species can reach
130 feet in length. They glow
blue or green when disturbed—
or fly to pieces, some so delicate
a cone of light alone can shatter them.
They’re almost impossible to collect.
What do they tell us, these prodigies
whose motion is a music,
weightless & translucent as
the dreams of birds?
That life is a conversation
matter is having with itself?
That cooperation at the highest level
is indistinguishable from genius?
All are predators.
Their apparitional tentilla wave
or glow to lure prey—those
so foolish as to possess central
nervous systems—into the range
of poisonous harpoons.