Gracilaria, or When She Grows A Whole New Body 

Wendy Cannella 

It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,  
out of all the indifferences into one thing 
—Wallace Stevens, 
“Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour” 

Because I can’t think of — 
            this morning on Long Sands  
I bend to lift up 

            a clump of seaweed, purple-red, cemented 
into the muck where the wrack line ends— 
or begins—this slick-slime clump, thick 

stranded as a young girl’s hair, laced with sand, 
gracilaria, because I can’t think of — 
            I dig up rockweed, knotted wrack, 

can’t think of how dark it was about to get 
September, sunset 
                        when the boat flipped— 

so I let these gritty ribbons 
            rasp the grooved pads of my fingers 
I can’t stop breaking open  

            each glowing bladder, swollen— 
one gasp each, their only breath,  

she built a lean-to out of broken branches, 
invited each of us inside, 
            shell-blue glow of halogen bulbs  

in the drafty garage of winter,  
            and a kind of life took shape 
within the frozen night, a seed, a bubble,  

 a dwelling  
            in the evening air 
in which being there together 

            is enough— 
so now, when I find a rope  
that snakes like a faded-green necklace 

            across the beach, I follow it 
until the tide comes in, and wherever I walk
            is soft as a belly and wet like eyes. 

Wendy Cannella’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Painted Bride QuarterlySalamanderSolsticeRattle, and Rhino, among others. Her essay “Angels and Terrorists” is featured in The Room and the World: Essays on the Poet Stephen Dunn from Syracuse University PressShe served as chair for the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Project board of directors and was named a Maine Literary Award Finalist in 2019.  

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