STARFISH by Jessica Goody Sunbathing starfish stretch languidly, with the liquid muscles of one rising from sleep. Their limbs flex like impatiently drumming fingertips, creeping over rocks and sand like spiders. Their brittle surface is rough and scaled, the texture of a stucco wall. Tiny bumps bead their skin like eczema. They lie against pale sand, the fine silts of gypsum and silica, like tropical blossoms or drifting butterflies. Vivid as a florist’s shop in shades meant to catch the eye, the colors of fabulous birds: violet, flame, strawberry, white frosted with red, knobbed and prickly; and team colors: purple piped with orange. Their thousand tiny pores bristle, sensitive as the fingers of a blind man. Like certain nervous humans they possess a touch phobia, a tendency to recoil at the sensation of intruding flesh and a lack of personal space. Their torn arms require no prosthetics, only time. Eventually sinew envelops the ragged wounds, rendering amputees as good as new, lacking a tell-tale scar, patiently convalescing, the way trees wait to bloom; biding time, a dimpled, broken limb spreading and stretching into the socket of the old.
Jessica Goody writes for SunSations Magazine and The Bluffton Sun. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Broad!, Spectrum, Barking Sycamores, HeART, Gravel, PrimalZine, Kaleidoscope, Open Minds Quarterly, and Wordgathering. Her poem “Stockings” was awarded second place in the 2015 Reader’s Digest Poetry Competition.