Crown of Thorns

Starfish waits on the bottom of the ocean.
It is called the Crown of Thorns.
Purple and black with spikes around its center
like an urchin. It looks like your heart-
if your heart came from the sea.
Heavy with salt and bits of coral, motionlessly
digesting the life around it.
Its name from the venomous thorn-like spines
that cover its upper half.
A flesh-eating sea star, radiantly beautiful
against the pale surrounding sand.
A carnivorous heart to devour
any unanswered dream, any forgotten love.
I dive in from the bow of the boat,
the icy water knocking the wind from my lungs,
wiping my face off, taking my hair in its teeth.
My tongue swollen in my mouth with words
I will never speak. I spit them out, I give them
back to the starfish that cluster around the dark-
all speckled and yellowed in their centers.
To be forgotten, to wait here on the bottom
for time to pass, for seas to change course,
constellations to shift. Leo the lion
so high in the heavens waiting
with a closed jaw and heavy padded paws
to walk across a violet sky.
The moon in its belly beckoning me back up.
I slide through myself into another skin,
scaled and gilled and freckled with brown.
A pigment of wanting, always,
to find the love I know is mine.
Such a love to pull me into its salty grasp.

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All works © 2017, Shelley Hesse. All Rights Reserved.