On Seeing an Exhibition of Rudolf and Leopold
          Blaschka's Glass Marine Invertebrates


From Bohemia to the deep:
        filament, tentacle crown, the creep

                toward clarity of ultramarine,
        the eyelid-purple in-between

of a fringed lamp—what is it?—
        floating in the case as if lit

                from within. Radiolaria
        needle the air. Carinaria

hangs in dotted swiss.
        The octopus gazes toward us

                beyond the glass.

        There is no feeling of wetness
when one is below the surface,

        wrote Zarh Pritchard, who dove
                and held his breath to sketch

        on oiled paper dim veils
and shadows, coral

        sediments, fronds,
                the undulating pastel

        haze of weeds and creatures,
his pale hands quick

        with the crayon,
                everything shifting

        in slow light,
everything old, new,

        everything new, dissolving.


                There is a feeling of dryness
        when one is strolling

instead of flowing
        through a museum—

                a feeling that time is being
        hurried along,

there are too many corners,
        there is no depth—

                though anemones wave
        and jellyfish rise

like lungs in darkened boxes.


Deirdre O'Connor directs the Writing Center at Bucknell University, where she also serves as Associate Director of the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets. Her book, Before the Blue Hour, received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize, and her work has appeared recently in Cave Wall, Crazyhorse, and Really System. She has a new, book-length manuscript titled The Cupped Field.