by Sophia Stid

You’ll come across a beach of bones. 
Small, shaped like cups or petals. It takes nerve. 
Every step becomes a mouth. The sound, the shape
of it. These bones are not articulate. 
The fish are drowning underwater. They die 
with their mouths open. They die with their whole bodies
and leave them brittle on the shore. You’ll walk slow because
you won’t know the word, which is rape, which you’re 
not allowed to feel. You’re aware of your body 
at its hinges: knees, hips, elbows. Collarbones. A hand 
spread there, the roots of the throat, the open space 
where the world gets in. Careful with your steps and breath
in this place, beyond care—you won’t touch any more 
of the landscape than you have to. An upholstered armchair 
half-submerged in water breathes in and out with surrounding 
waves. What you think is a swan is a white pelican. 
This is California in winter, this is the end of the world. 
Once, someone you loved leaned his head back against you
and said, okay. You shaved his head. The blue bathroom light
swung a little—an earthquake, a train on the track—
the falling hair, softer in the falling. You could hear
it hit the floor. He said, you’re trembling. Don’t tremble.
Everything sinking. An ocean of memory in America—
a yacht club decades-drowned, the force-fed fish storing fat 
in their tails, farmland that can’t be farmed without making rain. 
A reservation outside beauty or law. Water so toxic it burns. 
The fish are cracking underfoot. Remember: his cancer had no cause.
There are things you’re not allowed to feel.