Medusae (II)

R. M. Haines

Along the lip
of its body’s bell

a fringe of calcium crystals

orients the jellyfish
to gravity. Held

             in pockets,

the crystals graze nearby hairs

whose motion
neurons translate into up

             or down.

In this, a jellyfish
steadies into its sea the way

             a human ear

rights its body upon ground.

Having bred sixty-thousand jellyfish
in orbit around the Earth, in bags

             of artificial sea,

NASA discovered in those medusae
later released into our oceans

             erratic pulses:

             their down was

                                       up, their


In those cases when stones
in the labyrinth of a human ear

             fail in their charge,

the vertigo it scripts into
the neurons’ plastic map

             says no,

one is not right with the ground.

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