24 May 2016

she swallowed the sea to keep her cells alive,

my mother,

her body of ocean

the heavy ocean underneath her skin, and when

she opens the lids of her eyes,  it spills

from the black pools there inside the space of looking


my mother nearly drowns in her own self

she cries instead of seeing and

black waters choke her even as she tries – even as she tries

to swallow them back inside


once, I saw an orange fish slip

over the edge of an ocular pool;

it landed with a wet flesh sound on the wooden floors

and drowned in the stuff that I keep breathing

we only ate the fish because we were hungry, see

it’s hard to find a job when you are drowning out of water

I am not sure if eating the fish was at all like eating my mother

or if the fish,

inside my body,

will start demanding water


to clarify;

I didn’t want an ocean for a mother.  I wanted a person –

a person in the right shape of a person

to remind me that the shadows do not have flesh and bones

like people do


I said that eyes were not for fish and sadnesses to fall out of

and bodies were flesh and should not bleed salt water


she said

my daughter, drowning and living are synonymous things.

it was my first lesson in evading happiness


now, I have rubbed myself dry, and if not, St Kilda Beach

isn’t a real ocean



since my life of aridness, I have begun to expect

that one day I will see her

through the window of a fish tank

with the slits of gills on the sides of her face,

learning how to breathe


meanwhile, a fish still swims inside my watery ribcage;

the reason why I am so susceptible

to pneumonia and sadness

in winter


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