bleach blonde was the look of the summer:
colorless skeleton of polyps and aging fish spines.
rocks smoothly slate gray as salt water
grinds it down; it had no algal coat to protect and
nourish, no obsidian shelled mussels hanging off
the edges, beating themselves to the rhythm of the tide.
the moon rises and so the tide flows, warming waves
crashed, blue hypoxic seafoam gurgled a last
lament. when the seagull cried out for the last time,
it took the flock with it. once upon a time,
if you cupped blue with spread out fingers, either sky
or sea, you could observe life teeming in between your knuckles.
you can’t help but paint old histories in pink watercolors:
take the brush, cover the blemishes, brighten the hues,
you don’t know what parts are real and which parts you wish were.
a truth: bleach blonde did not stay after summer. girls found their hair
was too crackly, brittle from constant treatment. we started
thinking maroon silk was better than sulphureous wires stuck
to scalps with elmer’s glue. life breeds life, their hair was already dead
but the reef still clung like a damsel in distress. if it was rapunzel,
it would’ve let down its hair for anyone, if only they’d climb the tower.
you replant a polyp, a seedling you nurtured to life, it is its
time to fledge. you lace your fingers together and
cautiously peer into the snowglobe you have shaken back to life:
tangs so bright they turn chartreuse
at noon, cinnabar anemones with squirming tentacles,
emerald seagrass plush to the touch. tilt your head,
and see the terns circling, wide white wings casting shade
as a warning. they are the most polite predators
you think you have ever seen; when smog clogged
city streets and winter air turned tepid, we sent
no heads-up: perhaps this might be your last century;
best prepare your trembling lungs, your hummingbird hearts, bleached
platinum is our new gold. painting the color back into
coral’s white skeleton is our apology. we try so the message we
never sent will not come