Aurelia and the Vellelas

She has washed ashore with dozens of her
sea sisters, moon jellies with translucent
bell bodies, tumbled with feathery kelp,
along with blue-rimmed, tentacled disks
sporting clear sails, hundreds of
by-the-wind sailors.

Vellela vellela, the cosmopolitan, free-floating
seafarers, sail across the ocean’s surface,
while Aurelia labiata pulse beneath,
complex blobs of jelly that head for shore
near the ends of their lives.

Offering no resistance to tidal currents,
flood tides beach them, which is where we
find them on the first evening of our visit
to the north coast, Aurelia and the Vellelas—
the nautical girls and their sailor boy
backup band.

We pick them up off the sand, set them
on our palms, these mariners that, once
under sail, have no way to navigate, that
find themselves at the mercy of the winds.

We prop the moon jellies on our upraised
fingers, study them in the light, marvel at
their gelatinous bodies, now minus tentacles,
all of these stranded marine invertebrates
having seen better days at sea.

We imagine them in their rock star prime,
prolific old salts that delivered only the mildest
of stings. We walk with reverence through
their sandy graveyard, think of them
in their rowdy youth—the sailors and
the jellies, oh, the music they must
have made—and wish them
a fond farewell.

Top: Vellela vellela, by-the-wind-sailor. Above: Aurelia labiata—moon jelly. At The Sea Ranch, Sonoma coast. (Photos / Dick Schmidt)

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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