In Victoria, we watched from the rocks
as the jellyfish floated towards us.
A jellyfish has no brain so its thoughts
are different, tentacles trailing from its head
like ribbons, like something shredded,
like what you say but shouldn’t.
I thought if I touched one, I would never
stop. I thought I wanted to be stung.
My mother wore a long blue dress.
She had brought a man with us.
My eyelids were heavy from watching.
We slept in a trailer with the sea
on one side and the hills on the other
and inside the hills were goats
with bells on their necks.
Jellyfish bloom suddenly and in large
numbers. Like when you turn a doorknob
and the room comes rushing towards you,
all its lamps and clocks.
This woman was not my mother.
She hummed to herself.
She glowed underwater.
She forgot my father.
She used her body to propel herself forward.
The moon jelly swarms, which implies
an active ability to stay together.
The moon jelly is also called Aurelia.
Everything has another name.
In Victoria, I did not yet know
my own secrets. That I think with my body
and this means I am not good.
That it’s dark and the hills are ringing
and I am silent and twisting inside the sea.
That what stings is beautiful.
That what is beautiful stings.