We see here a barnacle’s palm-like cirri emerging from a woman’s exposed vagina, as if wanting to feed from thin air. This arthropod, a cousin of the crab and the shrimp, has lodged in her genitalia, hence the distinctive smell. It is a heavy case of vagina dentata, with crustacean overtones. The animal is sessile – that is to say, it does not move in its adult stage – but has evolved from a free-swimming nauplius: a one-eyed larva with only a head and a tail. At some point, between tides, the larva has become a cyprid, somewhat resembling the head of a human spermatozoon, slowly building a chemical acrosome around itself; and then, before metamorphosing into a young barnacle, it has chosen its spot.
She feeds them with frequent plankton baths from the waist down, while she reads about them in the foam, turning pages with her nose; they were born from cyprid sperm. Like the parasitical sacculina barnacles climbing into crabs’ crotches, these creatures have no plan of leaving, and they even modify their host’s character to the verge of sex change. At the end of their larval stage, they had indeed secreted a form of glycoproteinous cement, fixing their bodies to the anterior wall of the vagina, at the ectocervix. Now she seems to have nervous ferns fanning her intimacies, and the pulsating tickles make her giggle, gag and stir.
She feels pregnant but the creature has long been born and it shall live inside her until its death. It is a great relief, after losing all her children to their own birth and subsequent adulthood, to know that what’s within her shall not leave. No penis would ever stay inside for long enough, for it had to come out, at some point; besides, by body ratio, the barnacle’s penis is way longer than that of any other animal, and it will never leave. For toppers, the barnacle is a hermaphrodite, in every sense of the word, so – she thinks – it understands. And so long as she feeds it, it will become larger and larger, scooping up the plankton with its cirri, and giving her orgasms in her bath.