Published by FootHills Publishing, 2004
to Tess Gallagher
My Pacific intertidal life guide clearly
identifies today’s find as a common acorn
barnacle, specifically Balanus glandula,
staking also its claim to fame: a naked
tenaciousness, possessing as it does one
of the strongest known natural adhesives.
But I passed over their chitinous craters filled
with moist, gray, blank eyes of primitive
meat & attendant barbed legs yet feeding,
to study ones long gone to crows & gulls,
shells of former simple selves holding,
holding on, outlasting, yes, even death.
I had to be my own life guide, perceive
such creatures as the antithesis of morning
mists over the strait straying off so easily
into thinnest of air at the slightest touch
of light. I came to know them quite clearly
otherwise, those old soul barnacles, those old lovers.