Size / / /

I pretend that I've found you, shipwrecked

and you had lost a lot of blood—

the shore is sick with it

my dress is dyed by it and my hands

my hands are like angels at your side.

I know how land hurts you:

the sand slices your skin to fine ribbon

and the air grinds you raw inside.

I know you have no hands. Your tongue

is in my pocket. When you tell me you love me

I will give them back.

I gave you the brightest whitest pearls

shucked from oysters' wombs and set them

into the pink hollows of your skull.

You take to them

like I take your head into my lap.

Every night that you're with me

she sends her fish to bring you back.

They drag themselves across the beach,

open their silly gasping mouths

and retch up a wave of longing and loss,

a stagnant smell of forgetting, like an undertow.

I crush their little heads beneath my heel

grind their guts into the cold coarse sand.

I know she will hear their blood as it dries.

This is how she plans to drown me and take you back:

with her despair.

She weeps for you, rages,

but her tidal waves and howling hurricanes are nothing

nothing compared to my love for you.

No matter how many ships she swallows, or how many men

she spits up on shore, grotesquely bleached and bloated,

no matter how many limbs she rips from their bodies

with her sharks and their well-muscled jaws

I will not give you back.

Never forget the weight of you

as I dragged you from the waves,

how you spat up seaweed and gulped my tears.

Never forget that I gave you a heart

inner chambers spiraled like a shell.

Feel me: I too am wet and curved

like the dunes cascading into the sea.

I feed you fish and gull feathers. Keep you warm

in my twining arms, in my lap.

You grow and you grow.

I worry your soul will be as big as the ocean.

I worry that your pearl eyes will blind you

and you'll love only the sea.




Kathrin Köhler is a poet living in Madison, WI who has picked up the bad habit of writing fiction. She is interested in the influence and power narrative has in the construction of our understanding of reality. Work of hers has appeared in Goblin Fruit and Stone Telling.
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23 Jan 2023

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