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The Marine Biologist’s Idea of Order by Fiona Larkin

She’s an aquatic steward,

a salt-streaked PhD,

and exhibits local fauna

in her showcase on the quay,


across Clayoquot Sound.

A portion of the ocean

animates her tall vitrines,

and shallow dipping tanks

where fish-eating anemones

wave poison-sticky tentacles

to solitary octopus

and bloodless sea stars

circulate saltwater

in fluid-filled canals.

Each living creature’s origin

is demarcated on her map.

They flash their homing beacons.

Come fall, she’ll reinstate

her catch: the aquarium’s

glass walls will liquefy

for all — bar that interloper,

ravener of sunken coral,

the green shore crab.

Lowering her teeming buckets

to the deep, she’ll not return

those grinding claws

only the ghostly carapace.

if you find one on the beach, she says

stamp it out.


Fiona Larkin’s poems feature in journals and anthologies, including Magma, The North, Perverse, Finished Creatures, Under the Radar and Best New British and Irish Poets 2018. She was highly commended by the Forward Prizes 2019 in the Best Single Poem category. She organises multi-media events with Corrupted Poetry.


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