self-portrait as the local legend

by Ashleigh Kennedy

                         after Mary-Kim Arnold



what you’ve heard about me

just might be true. i am


nobody’s daughter but

my own; nobody knows


where i come from. the days 

get hotter, and i spend them


like change, dip my toes

in different dive-bars, sip


my summers among 

the strange. silly


humans. they see me dance on knives 

and call it art


mystique. pain, to them,

is mere tragedy. 


maybe they’re right. what am i, after all,

but performance? dinner


and a show? but they don’t know

what it means to straddle


an ocean, to strut as if 

you’ll never


fall. and here

is my little secret: each night


i answer the moon’s

slow crawl, press


my body into

blue, the slap


of seafoam on

my skin. i name


the river’s mouth

my mother, its kiss


my only next

of kin, and when 


the tide drafts a bed

of sand, and the river


merchant calls me

his own, his love for me


a fevered sound, I tell him there is

a catch: you must unearth


me in the sweetest

deep; to love me


you must dream

and drown. 


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