by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
The seas were nearly gone:
abyssal ooze buried by meters of crusty salt,
water far thicker than blood-
gelid remnants of the storied Okeanos.
Amid the desolation stood a small hut,
used anon by fishermen-
those were exciting times!
Our own blood was all the bait we needed,
for the briny pools hosted
a desperate life burning for the thin
liquids in our veins.
The sharks had learned to glide
upon waters that were
far too heavy to raise waves,
scooping up the plankton in their wide,
and a fisherman's juicy leg would not go amiss.
The seaweed too
had assumed perilous new forms:
Barbed, motile, ever athirst.
The leathery forests floated with the wind
but were propelled as well by oar-like bladders
stiffened with deadly hollow spines.
Scallops, those shelly swimmers of lagoon and bay,
scuttled across the viscid seas,
blue eyes ablaze,
and, with radula-tipped whips,
exacted their myriad fleshy ounces.
By God we were men then!
Skipping from shore to shoal and back again,
armed only with our spears and courage.
Those seas are gone
Even the brine shrimp are now but memories,
their fossils deliquescing in the midday sun
whene'er we expose them
while mining for our salt.
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