Tuesday, January 28, 2020

It came up out of the deep,
Shrouded in darkness,
A damp shadow, slick with moss
And algae.

I didn’t see it, creeping beneath
The waves at my ankles,
The ripples tickling my feet
A disguise for its
Reaching fingers.

Its cold embrace is a solid presence,
Surrounding me in something
That isn’t safety,
That isn’t danger,

That is something in between
In the hollow between
The surface and the deep.
I wonder if I even know how
To love you

I wonder if I even know
How to be loved
I’ve been dying for so long that I don’t remember
What it felt like to imagine that I might survive.
Once I punched a man because he said
That greens were better than reds,

And honestly, what kind of person thinks that?
He was asking to get hit.

But his girlfriend liked me, and he was
Cool about it, and hours later, when I was

Too drunk to care, he let me
Bum a green off him and he didn’t say anything

As I leaned in towards his lighter.
My body wants to be small: to curl up
In a den of leaves and grasses,
Hidden away from the world. My body wants to eat
Fruit and nuts, to hold morsels in
Tiny hands and nibble them with tiny teeth,
And when the sky gets dark and the air
Gets cold my body wants to find
Your body, secreted away in our hidden burrow,
And sleep. 
The thing had washed up on shore, a putrid mix
Of scale and bone and weeds and rot.

Shoshana poked it with a stick while I held back,
Afraid of death, which was still a tangible thing
In my eight-year old mind. Shoshana managed
To work her stick into its ribs, or, what I suppose
Must have been its ribs,
And waved her conquest like a flag.

“It’s not scary,” she told me, but I was never
A brave child—even now, I keep to corners
And walls, safe from everything that won’t hurt me.

I stayed where I was, up on dry sand, and I felt
The early prickle of burning skin on my neck and back,
And the sun shone off the ripples in the lake
Like diamonds, and I watched Shoshana
As the water lapped at her ankles and she fearlessly
Held death in her hands.

My lover is the wind:
Intangible and unmistakable,
She strokes my hair and
Caresses my face and
Is gone again before
I can miss her.