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The Mollusc World

July 5, 2008

Aquarium, Monterey, California

At noon, the great Hand
breaches the world’s rippling membrane
and a jet of pellets
raises a swarm of yellow bee fish.
Coarser pellets meander
awaited by the o-mouthed
blackeyed rockfish who waves transparent ruffled fins
like a drag queen in summer georgette
having wiggled its lump of backside into a hole in the reef
drilled by acid suction of a geoduck clam’s
feeding tube, a plasmatic human-sized phallus.
The clam, spent,
revolving with tidal currents
will stumble across virgin coral.

On the sandy bottom
striped angel wings
refill muscular bellies
raking nutrients through toothed gums.
All dross drifts to spiral-humped moon snails
who cleanse by grazing—
devourer-plows
patient in dim light

where shadows of spectators
swim the glass shield
in a dream of regaining
so gentle a fit.

by Charlotte Mandel

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