Dazzling Dinoflagellates by Martha Snell

Dazzling Dinoflagellates


We gather when the moon is hidden
in earth shadow, stand in a group to hear facts,
take advice, don life jackets that cover our lungs,
our hearts. We drive toward a cove at the
salt sea edge where the plankton proliferate,
persist in a small shallow bay with its twisted neck
to the sea, its reef a wall that holds them in. These
bright, tiny organisms, single cell, simple we call them,
beckon us to witness their wonder. Under wisps
of night light we load into kayaks, follow one
dim beacon. Only paddle sounds dipping, dripping,
pulling on water. Last light tucks under the earth,
dark descends fully, fills the space that holds us.
The enchantment begins. Under every boat
a lining of light, each paddle’s dip is a brush
painting sparkle. Even the fish surface
in small blue spotlights, descend exposed.
These uncountable beings dance ghostly
glimmering with every splash we make.
I sink my arm in the cool cove, skin glows
blue. Lift lighted water in both cupped hands,
let it fall back twinkling into the bay, dots of glitter
on my fingers, my palm — I am holding starlight.

Martha Snell
Martha Snell completed an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in January 2015. She has two published poems, one in Streetlight Magazine and the other a finalist in the 2015 Bermuda Triangle Prize, The Poet’s Billow. One of her poems was also awarded the Mary Jean Irion Prize from Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends in 2015.

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