Marie-Elizabeth Mali

Conversation with a Jellyfish

Something inside me smears its greasy
fingers all over the good until
its oil-heavy wings no longer fly.
Where do you put your broken?


                                    That’s what stingers are for.
                                    I bloom and sting. Sting and bloom. 


Is it enough to let yourself be carried?


                                    No greater joy.


But what about this want? This need
to go left when the current goes right?


                                    I have no such need. But I know
                                    it’s the source of unhappiness.


Tell me about community.


                                    To pulsate in concert with a million,
                                    my skin one receptive quiver,
                                    a mantle of nerve net: bliss.


But what about the broken inside?


                                    No inside, no broken.


And how about the soul?


                                    What else would know up from down?

Marie-Elizabeth Mali

Marie-Elizabeth Mali is the author of Steady, My Gaze (Tebot Bach, 2011) and co-editor with Annie Finch of the anthology, Villanelles (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets, 2012). Until recently she co-curated louderARTS: the Reading Series and the Page Meets Stage reading series in New York City. Before receiving her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, she practiced Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has been awarded a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in October 2013. Her work has appeared in CalyxPoet Lore, and RATTLE, among others. 

(Photo credit: Peter Dressell)