In this week’s column, poet Carolyn Locke of Troy begins with a description of the starfish and ends with a poem in praise of love.

Regeneration

By Carolyn Locke

for Gerry

I heard how the starfish learns the world

through touch, how its chemical sense

leads it to the mussel bed, how it feels

its way around crevices sucking soft bodies

from their shells. You can’t kill a starfish

in any usual way — chop one up

and it multiplies, filling the waters

with quintuples of spiny legs

reaching out from humped backs, and curling

around the deep purple shells on the rocky

bottom. Sometimes I think I know

what it is to know the world

through only the body. If I close my eyes,

I no longer feel where my body ends

and yours begins —

and I can believe your hands are mine

reaching for muscle,

a strange body becoming my own,

and in my ear an unfamiliar heartbeat

pumps new blood, breath no longer mine

doubles the lungs, my need

growing larger than what any body can hold

until there is only this way of knowing, this touch

that leads me, blind as the starfish,

to become what I cannot see.

 


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