The Elysia Sea Slug

by Laura Reece Hogan

              I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies
              your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.

                                                                                                             — Ezekiel 36:26
Things go sideways. The body opens the wrong
doors and lets in bad company, copepods that take over.
Then we carry it, segments crippled with parasites,
stony growth. I think you mean it when you say
you’ll give me a new heart. I see evidence in stars,
in the sea slug that can detach its entire diseased body
and crawl away on orange horned antennae. The head
births a new form. Mangled sea stars
and flatworms do this, but only the Elysia sea slug 

sprouts a heart from just a head. This is your prescription.
You pry loose the cargo and craft fresh strands of light.
When I unhook all the parts

and struggle away, won’t you come rebuild? Tear down 
the years the locusts have eaten, let the heavy consignment fall.
Regenerate a glistening wholeness from only one piece.

Let that piece be you.


Laura Reece Hogan is the author of Butterfly Nebula (Backwaters, University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming 2023), winner of the Backwaters Prize in Poetry, Litany of Flights (Paraclete Press, 2020), winner of the Paraclete Poetry Prize, the chapbook O Garden-Dweller (Finishing Line Press), and the nonfiction book I Live, No Longer I (Wipf & Stock). Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Sugar House Review, Scientific American, RHINO, America, Spiritus, Connecticut River Review, Cloudbank, DMQ Review, and elsewhere. She can be found online at

Image: Paul Blenkhorn

Image description: Acrylic green abstract painting with yellow, red, and blue.