Once, after a jellyfish stung me,
a man held a beer can over my leg and said
the sticky yeast would help ease the sting.
I didn’t tell him I had been stung before, and
feared very little from the burn.
Jellyfish are not actually fish but
cnidarians, or aquatic invertebrates.
The phylum cnidaria contains species
distinguished by cnidocytes, specialized
stinging cells used to capture
After all, what was it but a reminder, the sea
embedded in my skin. I still have its mark
on the back of my calf. Red lines against a
tan canvas: wobbly body wraps long tendrils
down, to blister over the knob of my ankle.
The jellyfish’s adult phase,
its reproductive phase, is called the medusa
stage. Medusae are sexual individuals
of many species. Like the head held
by Perseus, they still sting when
My calf burned, through the day
into the night but I still go
into the sea. My jellyfish keeps me
company among the other fish, though
it is not really a fish at all.
Medusae are free-floating, they drift
through the water column among
and have no brain or heart. No eyes or
ears or nose or head or bones, not even a
Adrienne Rozells is interested in writing as a form of connection and education. She is co-founder/EIC at Catchwater Magazine, and has been published in Kissing Dynamite and Wilder Voice. Find her on Instagram @rozellswrites or Twitter @arozells. She loves strawberries, dogs, and extrapolating wildly about the existence of Bigfoot.