Jellification

by janeeatonhamilton

Every day, I bang my mind up against the thickening jail of my skull.  So many bars, and the bone hard, the bone exacting, smooth and slippery, pale as a tulip bulb under its brown jacket, and everywhere I turn, no matter how I hope the osseous matter won’t contain me, won’t be the edge of me, it does, it is, relentlessly.  This is where my mind ends. Finis, completo.  This is where the jig is up for me. Filigree, lace, dendronitic and slippery and slackly synaptic, rolling like sea snakes off ecru bone. My cell bodies have nerves; my eels are electric. I have this much space, this hairy coconut’s worth, and not a centimeter more.  One stifling cave is all I get for spelunking.  Speleothems at every turn, stalagmites and stalactites mineralizing.  I’m not trying to say that I know the place, but rather I’m saying that even in its mysteries it lacks scope. Sure, it loves a long rope swing over a blue unknowable cenote. What brain wouldn’t?  But what’s down there? People, I am terrified.  Jellyfish.  Once off Fiji I got stung by too many jellyfish and afterwards it looked like red lips had kissed me a hundred times. But they can kill a person, some jellyfish, in merely minutes.  Today I read a long review in the New York Review of Books called ‘They’re Taking Over,’ by Tim Flannery discussing ‘Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean’ by Lisa-ann Gershwin and let me tell you, my entire mind lit up like an underwater beacon, quivered twice, and then collapsed. Here are some of the gaseous tidbits I siphoned up just from Tim’s review: jellyfish can reproduce at 13 weeks via sex or self-sex or cloning, and when they die, cells wriggle free of the snit and snot of decomp and re-jig and make new jelly babies.  Here’s the rub, here’s the part that ricochets around my over-taxed mind-mush:  those jelly babies are right this minute colonizing the wet.  And wreaking destruction.

Gershwin says, “If I offered evidence that jellyfish are displacing penguins in Antarctica—not someday, but now, today—what would you think? If I suggested that jellyfish could crash the world’s fisheries, out compete the tuna and swordfish, and starve the whales to extinction, would you believe me?”

Scientists are calling this phenom jellification.

And yes, Lisa-ann Gershwin, I believe you.