Jellyfish Reflection – by Hayley Simon

I blow soapsuds around my lukewarm tub
as you linger in my peripheral vision,
struggling with your tie. I study the glide
of each rainbow-glinting sphere and find myself
drifting to the jellyfish, the ones in the wilderness
documentary from earlier. The way they floated
through the blue like deep sea, sunset-tinted clouds:
effortless— nothing but a gentle ripple to swim,
a silky trail of streamers waving goodbye.

I watch my own arm rise out of the bathwater,
just enough to wiggle my fingers along the surface,
to exist on the plane between the half of me
that’s underwater and the half that’s in the air.

We’re having a disagreement about emotional
intelligence and what is felt by jellyfish.
You say: How could they feel? They’re just blobs.
I counter: How could they not? They’re free.

Nothing holds them but the sea itself,
plumes of pink, like fallen rose petals,
flying without the limitations of a spine.

You finally cinch the knot around your neck,
and my tub begins to drain. I close my eyes,
force myself to notice all the places where I touch
the bottom. And when I push off, drag the rest
of my body into the air, I count the seconds it takes
for the clinging bubbles to abandon my limbs.
They’re gone before I can prove you wrong.


Hayley Simon writes from her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she now works in childcare and as a writing tutor. Hayley earned her BA at Allegheny College with a special focus on creative writing and plans to pursue her MFA in the same subject. During her time in college, she was a senior editor of The Allegheny Review. She has previously been published in Sigma Tau Delta’s journal, The Rectangle. When she is not writing or working, Hayley enjoys other creative projects such as ceramics and photography and also spends time as an equestrian.