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Archives: Summer 2000 Table of Contents
Treasure Chest
Poetry by Jean Monahan

The Sea Horse: A Love Story
for Tom Consi

In all seahorse and pipefish species thus far found to be monogamous, male and female partners perform an early morning greeting, during which they change colour and dance together for about 6 min.; greetings reinforce the pair bond. Amanda Vincent, Animal Behaviour, 1995.

Tell me how it is to run with no legs,
to gallop long in the turquoise light
after some blinding, unobtainable point,

moon and stars your phantom riders.
There's a field where the wild run
until they break under the halter

of independence. I find you tethered
to blue-green ribbons of weed
in a glassy garden of dancing shrimp.

The neck of the stallion bows
to the yoke of loyalty or devotion.
The spine is for courage, cinching

to one blade only, though the tide
tips you until you touch your snout
to the sand, and then back,

until you rear in the tumble
and salt, charging the surf.
Somewhere, out of sight, the clef

body of your mate lives out a life
of soulful diligence. Once a day
she comes to where you cling

and you twine: two S's, two bamboo-
colored strokes. Love is the cage of bone
worn on the outside, the small, critical

organs glowing like enchanted stones
behind the scrim. Love is the spiny
bride, wherever you find him.

Life After Water

In the life before water, we were rock.
Molten. Singed. The heat was in our mouths:
it took our words away.

Now we swim in the lake of vowels. I and you.

Water is about drift and change.
The trick is to embrace what absorbs
and dissolves you, let each stroke pull

the shadows into light.
When you step on a fish, you take on its power.
The edge of the lake is where we end.

In the life after water,

wind speaks with a louder voice,
the sky is white with dying stars.
Only those with water in their ears

can hear them fall.

Jean Monahan earns a living as a Senior Creative Director at AGENCY.COM: Boston. She received the 1991 Anhinga Prize for her first book, Hands, and her second book, Believe It or Not, was published by Orchises Press in 1999 (both available on


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