Stella Floods the Museum

The air creatures are pink flash-white-pink
with their monochrome skins:
they tap the glass
with their sad, stiff arms,
and the vibrations are blue-blue-blue
rippling over her.
Yellow spot-green,
she flashes to them,
yellow spot-pink flash-dark.
She hopes they take comfort in it.

She hopes because they are kind to her,
silly dry air-breathing friends,
big bodies, tiny eyes.
They bring food right to her,
and this is red pulse-pulse-pulse,
it is pink ripple, white-white.

Stella will reach up into dry
to touch a sucker-less arm:
green-green, she says,
green-green for the fish.

Green-green for the toys,
so she does not go grey bored.
Bright puzzles, static-colored but fun to
yellow spot/flash, pink
to wriggle through curving tubes
and find a red-red mussel hiding for her.
Red pulse-red to pry it open and eat.

Stella would like to speak green to them,
speak pink-yellow-green,
but maybe they are too dry for speaking.
In the dark,
where she is her own only flashing light,
Stella grips the arm-like structures in her
curls over herself, pulls, and the arm-thing
pops free.
Water pours out into air.

In the light,
the air creatures do not climb into the
Stella is indigo-grey,
until she sees them waving their arms.
She waves her arms back.
Fast fast they crawl in their air,
and this is pink flash-white.
They scrabble like urchins
(red pulse urchins, her favorite).
Stella settles in her rocks
so she can watch their pink-white-white
It’s indigo that her plan didn’t work,
but it turned out to be such a white-white

Virginia M Mohlere has been a science editor since 1998, first for the University of Chicago Press and currently in the Department of Scientific Publications at the University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center. Other published works can be found online at Goblin Fruit, Polu Texni, MungBeing, Fickle Muses, and Cabinet Des Fées. Mohlere notes that her poem was inspired by a February 2009 incident at the Santa Monica Pier Museum, in which “a female two-spotted octopus pulled apart a valve in her tank, spilling hundreds of gallons of water into the museum.” As Mohlere points out, “several species of octopus are known to be intelligent and curious, and many cephalopods have cells in their skin that change color in response to the environment and various stimuli.”