Sea Star

We know that under warmer conditions, they die faster.
—Magan Crane, Phys.org, September 2015


In water cobalt-blue a sea star melts,
its five rays torn away to join the silt’s
suspension, sand, and clay,
a spent core all that’s left; and when it wilts,
imploding into white pulp, nothing else
remains—a mystery

whose cause we fear. . .  Some poison in the pulse
of coastal waves, some pathogen in swells
sun-warmed and placid? Why
would constellations die amid the shells
and octopi, volcanic barnacles
and dim aquatic sky

where satellites collide in silent trails?
The star’s a predator. It targets snails,
vulnerable prey
slow-moving, stationary. Clasped, it pulls
small armored shells apart before it kills
piecemeal, deliberately:

the stomach through its mouth extends and fills,
withdraws again, digesting. What foretells
its own fate undersea?
Whole colonies, as if devoured, convulse,
dividing, dying in some fatal impulse,
nothing we can see

responsible . . . What’s killing auklets, gulls,
egrets, an ark’s escort of flailing mammals—
bruised sea lions who lie
beached on Pacific shores? Is it the krill’s
diminishment, or something else that fails
or breaks down in decay,

invisible to see? A sea star melts,
its flesh dissolving in a sea where guilt’s
past knowledge, astral body
trapped in place, split from an eye that dwells
where each ray terminates and twilight falls
or fades uncertainly.