The Drowned Girl
This is a quiet grave. In is not made of myths, of great barbarous fish, of coral, or salt. No one submerges himself with metal and rubber, no one shines her white light along the floor. Search parties have been suspended. There is no treasure buried here. This is the place of what-is-not. Of a green so green those flying above it would call it blue. Of a black so black it glows. This is a world with its own species of ghosts--plankton drifting inside her, the barnacles nesting on her hips, her wrists, their whole beings mouths frozen in horror. Sound turned into silence--like cloth on the floor is the shed skin of the lover. Like sheets bereft of the shapes that slept. Once upon a time she was all escape--her long hair, siren of copper and cinnamon, burning a comet behind her. Her long legs that loved heels and short skirts, that craved the hard slap of the city beneath her. You would have read this girl. You both wanted more. But she doesn’t remember how she got here, in this bed that consumed her. Why she can’t put her lipstick on, why one would press color like a promise to the lips. It must have begun with red. But the beginning of this story is lost to the water, you could rake its bottom of leaves and sticks like tea, you could spear one of its last trout and study the slick pages of its intestine. The girl is leagues and leagues away from the first kiss of prologue, but she, throat caked with mud, white skin scaled verdigris, must be the message within the bottle. Words grow in her belly. It doesn’t matter who put them there. If they are the children of plankton, descendants of eels and pond scum. They come to her as twins, triplets, and septuplets, whole alphabets swimming inside her. Each one is a bubble, a bread crumb, a rung to climb to the top. And as she ascends she names them with names cradled inside her. Her feet kick and her arms clutch. Her body strong and slippery, a great tongue that propels her: A is for apple, B is for bone, for boat, C is for candle, for cunt, for cut.
Poem from The Drowned Girl, reprinted with permission of Kent State University Press