The lovesong of the Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

Disco_Cuttlefish_at_Adelaide_Fringe_Festival_2014 (1)

No home maker, nest gatherer, sand sitter
turbo-charged palindromic I eat as I hunt | hunt as I eat
now I am shell-grit, now kelp, now fiery sea-devil.

Quick as a cat(fish), smart beyond my year
Once round our star I’ve been wild and wary;
stared the abyss in polarised and infrared.

In sepia days, our ancestors drowned sailing ships
stalked sailors’ eldritch dreams,
fought Nemo and Aronnax off the Mariana trench,

Yet how gentle, how playful I juggle these shells.
Mobilis in mobili chromatic chatter, protean in possibility,
what I know is a mystery —

— time is a surface of sparking chromatophores
that folds and unfolds (here I perform the Ouroboros
fringed in iridescent green and violet).

I bring you no token but brilliance: rascally superstar,
I have composed double octets to our love
out on the seagrass plain.

The hour’s near, soon we’ll mate (tentacular, spectacular),
and then this half-starved bard will die:
semelparity is my chemistry.

I’ll rise and on the surface lie: albatross food, my only bone
a strop for budgerigars, anchor a web of life
as flickering graphology / love / personality end.

Image: Stobie, the disco cuttlefish, Adelaide Fringe Festival, 2014, photo Emma Monceaux; semelparity also known as “big bang” reproduction where the single reproductive event is usually fatal; there’s more on sepia apama here and here‘s Jennifer Mills’ essay on climate change and the cuttlefish of Whyalla in South Australia. And keeping the dance going – here’s The Avalanches – since I left you (I found a world so blue…)

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