The tiniest of jellies bobbed by as a hairy crab dragged a common sea star over a bed of pneumatophores at Pulau Hantu, while the sky was still dry and the sun dripped with soft, warm beams that lost their way and gave up hope before breaking down on the cusp of an uneventful horizon. It was the teeniest of constellations, a blob no bigger than a nymphal barkfly, a phasmid egg, a button shell that died before its time – its ring of arms still a mere smudge on a flopping disc. The bell, ajar and agnostic to the drama writ large, wobbled its way to the aboral surface of the star, a mat of loose pebbles and prickly bars, where it sampled last light before the day caved in and petered out before a chorus of motor rhythms and blue notes from an island of small red pokka dot com bubblegum crisis on main streetwise ground foolish heart of darkness in a city of tyred screams.
Cassiopeia may have traded her earthly realm for celestial reaches, but her avatar at sea occupies a narrower fief: inshore flats, lagoons, bays and seagrass beds in a planetary belt of warm waters where the scyphozoans can lounge topside down and graze on sunshine, flexing their concavities every now and then to keep the goods flowing. Locally, the jellyfish, in various shades of grey, brown and green, are more often spotted at Pulau Semakau, occupying the thin rad line between the trees and the trough that sweeps past the western flank of the tethered island. Some planulae may have drifted to more haunted parts and coves inviting to nestle amid the pneumatophores of aged pioneers. But these polyps remain by and large transient indulgences, for the muddy banks between two shackled phantoms discourage loiter, especially when the tide is fleeing, floundering, falling in streaks, forming minor estuaries, miniature bores through capes of sand, crumbling in surrender to syndromes of lunar withdrawal, deltas of venus in furs, a storm in a cup on tea placed on the boil for far too long and just waiting to blow over unwind cut loose and wade beyond the gap in the wall and watch the world beneath the waves, a riot of bodies aglow, aflame, ashamed, tepid and in thrall to the embrace of spirits that never cease their wonderings even when the worst is over and work turns to war.