Before Dürer, dragons existed; after him, they did not. —Philip Hoare
Two mola mola washed ashore last night
during a full moon and August high tide.
Medallions of luminescence — one
scalloped and finned, parasites embedded
in its bony, sandpapery body, an oversized
manhole with wings, the other one sus-
pended and cratered — both ancient, mythic.
So much was happening in the midst of
this benign death: a white dog strained its
leash at the scent of decomposing flesh;
a child draped a seaweed wreath on a head;
a congregant of cormorants murmured
miserere nobis on small breaking waves;
from the rooftops black-backed gulls screeched
then dove for entrails spilled from their bellies.
Something had ended a pelagic life.
But who can say for sure? Their mouths agape,
astonished — their eyes already picked clean,
now dark, empty sockets, where the soul may
reside. The old UU Church bells chimed 9:00.
Come to me, cried the sea beneath a cloudy dome.
By morning the mola molas were gone.
Sandy Longley lives in Provincetown.
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