sporklet 16
Sarah Wolfson
Algae Blooms in August
Murky spheres that might
billow or break or


you altogether. Again you miss


the Persiads, ergo
another bucket list with


a hole, dear Liza. Summer
examines its own


planet: another place
threatened, another youth taken


by a policeman’s bullet. And now
a high jumper rebounds


into the shape of a starfish. And now
the season of sinkholes,


cicadas, and pride parades
in which the young Prime Minister


struts in white slacks. Algae means
several unrelated


species; the Japanese
have many words for moss: facts


we repeat at parties as evidence of
the sparkle of the world


inside the sparkle of
ourselves. A daughter


is growing up and away. Of the girls
who went to Syria as


fighters’ brides, one has met
the fate waiting


for its middle to play out.
The planet of horrible things


washes her personal
items onto our dining tables


next to half-filled woodland
animal ceramics: epilator, lipstick,


underwear. Elsewhere
a loon flies overhead and on hearing it


you may say you live on earth.
Quietly next door


the neighbors make plans
to adopt their own


grandchild. Their daughter
puts on ever larger


sweatshirts and smokes
on the stoop with her younger


sister, her face placid,
bewildered, and humming


to the receding sun:

now this, now this.
A Handful of Crabs

And now the internet has found a hermit crab housed in a blue-eyed doll’s head
separated from whatever other parts


had made her vaguely human. Her globed crown now crawls on eight sturdy legs,
a grotesque sideshow set nowhere


in particular except in front of us. It’s snow crab season in Quebec, also time
for fiddleheads, asparagus.


You know the season. The short one reserved for bright, sweet emerging things.
Click and her heard will crawl again


on ten articulated legs. You might be tempted to think that’s it
for hermit crabs this week: enough


exposure, enough strangeness for one species but over in another corner
of this nowhereness, a wrinkled hand


folds and unfolds on loop to show dozens of miniature hermit crabs, a proper handful,
the fingers clenched to bursting


as if with bird seed. Each time they open, a swarm of misshapen Easter eggs clambers
over the other small, hard ersatz-bodies,


some green, some blue, some the many variegated shades of soil. Most are fast,
but even the apparently dead or dormant


eventually move, too—outward and away and off the edge of everything,
climbing over whatever is necessary


on tiny twitching feather legs. All at once a wonder and a horror and your average
case of standing by


to watch a stranger’s hand let water or other miracles slip through it.

Friendship in Midlife

Surprising and

gelatinous: suddenly seeing

an octopus


up close. Arrives

in the middle of things: marriages, diseases.



and flourishes in the uncertain pattern

of a dog lost

in the city of its own


residence. Traffics

in fractal, tentacle,

constellation, unset

collarbone. Gets

undone. Comes home.



with interesting materials:

lost socks, gills, old news.

Allows moss


to cover what it will.

Does not see lichen

as decay but as a sign


of good air. Like your


enormous aloe:


is prepared for burns

but also just to grow

in whatever light

is given. Shares

a common grief

for conflicting conditions:


here an emptiness, there

an over-brimming. Sees

a common nuthatch


out different windows.

Sarah Wolfson is the author of the poetry collection A Common Name for Everything (Green Writers Press, 2019). Her poems have appeared in Canadian and American journals including The Fiddlehead, Michigan Quarterly Review, AGNI, PRISM international, and TriQuarterly. Originally from Vermont, she now lives in Montreal, where she teaches writing at McGill University.