Traci O'Dea

Cushion Sea Star


The starfish in the seagrass meadow seems
to have been made by Nerf—the puffiness
and symmetry, the red too red, the nubs
for grip. But it is real. Alive. Unlike
the thumb-sized star I thought, at eight,
I'd keep alive inside a sandy cup
of ocean. As we rode three hours home,
I watched it fade from brown to tan to white.
Its heart the last part to go colourless.
So I don't touch this vibrant one, just hope
it moves to prove it isn't fake. I'm tricked
by surface shadows, blades that jag and sway.
An arm lifts up, resettles, puffs the sand.
Each thought that's not of you—a victory.