saltwashed

unpeel me from my skin & let us wash it in the sea;

the salt will scour sediment from my capillaries.

 

glistening & exposed, I will pull down the sickle of the moon

& scrape my tendons clean. if we touch, you will find me

like the segments of an orange: membranous & soft

beneath your fingers; flesh giving, but liable

to burst.

 

~~

 

later, it may occur that oceans have beds:

that strange sentiments may settle to the bottom

like the dregs of ancient sharks. the ravelling of me

is a thing of quiet veins, bones turned fibrous

with moonlight, fingers unspooling into sound

& longing. there are such creatures in the depths,

after all; I am permitted to become gelatinous with silence.

 

~~

 

of such things are lives remade: slow patient stitches,

the curved needle bone-carved in your grieving hands.

 

beloved, did you string it through with spider silk,

have you washed full well in snowmelt? I am amorphous &

malignant, love; you must not be subsumed. if you must

preserve the skin of such a creature, is it not enough

to weep over the shell?             there is no need

to gather such foam as may linger at the tideline,

fat glistening & unwanted among the kelp; no need

to press forgotten flesh into old forms.

 

there are tides, my love, and tithes, and things

I would not have you pay; cold hungers drifting

like millennia across the peaceful deep. I am not

the one you lost.

 

~~

 

but oh. your touch is fire. and I am weak.

Jennifer Mace

Jennifer Mace is a queer Brit who roams the Pacific Northwest in search of tea and interesting plant life. A two-time Hugo-finalist podcaster for her work with Be The Serpent, she writes about strange magic and the cracks that form in society. Her short fiction has appeared in Cast of Wonders and the anthology Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger, while her poetry may be found in Liminality. Her anthology Silk & Steel: An Adventure Anthology of Queer Ladies, with co-editors Janine Southard and Django Wexler, is forthcoming from Cantina Press. Find her online at www.englishmace.com.

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