2666, pp.642. “He drew Porphyra umbilicalis,
a particularly lovely seaweed, nearly eight
inches long and reddish purple in colour.
There were various species of Porphyra
and all of them were edible. The Welsh,
in particular, were fond of them.”
i had been reading up on instant nori
made from greenish laver, on sugar
kelp and gutweed, when fresh from
recounting litanies of rapes bolaño
pre-empts the real or at least the
non-fictitious and rattles off a list
of literally the very coastal flora i’d
been researching in the reference
section of the family library.
not one to ignore the pinch of
coincidence i took the coastal path
down to a beach with no name,
sat on the cliff waiting for the tide,
watching the gulls plunge and puff,
until i could shimmy down the rocks,
got severely barnacled but
made the sand, and set off to
look for a cave or crevice where
literature uncurls to become some
living moving thing.
in a deep dulsy pool, guppy-full,
i saw a starfish at an unfortunate
aspect ratio due to the refraction
of light through water. what was
obvious was it was a whopper. i
took off my clothes and sank in up
to the hips, hooking my arm under
the rock. he peeled off easy like
a horny banana skin, asleep and
as big as my buttock.
i am not one to exaggerate. i
replaced him and watched him
ponder where to put himself
walking his suckers over wary
limpets, five knobbly underwater
caterpillars conjoined. then i
returned to the cottage where
the book was waiting splayed.
i used two of my legs to hold it
and putting my fifth feely limb in
i submerged myself.
Flo Reynolds lives in Norwich, where she works in editorial and communications. Previous publications include Birdbook III, Lighthouse, and Ink Sweat & Tears.