Home Movies: A Starfish Odyssey
© Allan Markin

Here I am
sliding down sea rocks at low tide
to the starfish
symmetrical evidence to take home
prove that I am tourist

Here I am in frame two
placing the starfish into a plastic bag
tying my treasure to the bumper of my car
“Keeps it cool,” I say to Helen
who thinks I’m a fool
going to all the trouble for a starfish
which is going to rot anyway

Here I am driving down Tofino highway
heat blankets like hell
which, I say to Helen
is hotter in the summer

She has one foot on the dashboard
trying to cool off another kind of hell
Drive faster” she yells as she searches
for more breeze

I feel like pulling off into the rain forest
to look for mushrooms

In frame three I’m in a service station
wondering why everyone is staring at me
“It smells” smirks the attendant
“Oh, I forgot about my starfish” I say apologetically
“but the dead smell, don’t they.”
Helen barks “Don’t be stoopid”

The attendant wants to be helpful
“Boil it for two hours” he says, “to get the smell out.”
I tell him that my starfish will lose its essence that way
but he, who can take the sea for granted
wants to know who cares

I care, so here I am in a motel kitchenette
boiling starfish at 2 AM
to prove that I am a tourist

Here I am, home at last
showing neighbor Bill my starfish
“it’s pretty squishy” he observes
and begins to laugh until he sees my eyes
which are as deep and wild as the sea
from which I pulled my starfish

Helen pushes a shovel into my hands
I dig and bury my starfish
satisfied that I have proved that I am tourist

In this final frame it is spring
I am looking at the clump of deep green grass
in the middle of my lawn
I try to explain to Helen that she doesn’t understand
the relationships of things
but I don’t tell here that I now know
a little more about how Penelope
must have felt.