By Allison Funk

Featured Art: Solar Effect in the Clouds-Ocean by Gustave Le Gray

What if, late in my life,
an old love returned?
I might get carried away

as I did my first time in that otherworld
ablaze with coney
and neon blue tang,

soundless except for the resonance
of my breath, a hypnotic
one-two, now/then, why not

me, you. I must have seen
the stoplight parrotfish
beam red from a grotto,

but, heedless, sped up,
flippers propelling me over coral
resembling Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia

still unfinished after a hundred years.
Remembering my past,
I circled the remains

of countless marine animals.
Fragile memorials, yes,
but not harmless I’d learn:

the thousand mouths of the reef
that open out of hunger,
alive to the careless swimmer

who comes too close.
One who, succumbing to the pull
of the beautiful, swims out

so far she finds herself at the mercy
of surf that flings her
against the stinging ridge.

Cells meeting cells, tentacles, flesh,
she’s left with the mark
of a fiery ring that burns longer

than a slap. Weeks. Months.
A tattoo that may never fade
from the soft underside of her arm.

Allison Funk’s sixth book of poems, The Visible Woman, is forthcoming in January, 2021, from Parlor Press. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Poetry, the Paris Review, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She is Professor Emerita at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She can be found at

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