III. Autumn

largelike golden liquid it drips down

to touch the leaves

already changing in the dying light

to match burnished copper rivers

chilled by winds brought on

by a dying sunset

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oysters

when they say “the world is your oyster,” do they mean

i can pull it out, screaming,

from its shell

or use it to mass produce a milky white pearl

that will sell for hundreds of dollars one day?

 

do they mean i can exploit it,

dig it from its watery safe haven,

put it up for auction,

people’s faces pressed against the glass, saying

“this one, this one will do”?

 

can i collect a whole galaxy’s worth of people’s oysters

people who just left them there in the dark depths

of the ocean in space?

can i cook them all up or eat them on the half shell,

my lips stained with the tears of their inhabitants?

 

i think i’d like to make a pretty penny

off these oysters,

if i can

just to taste

the salt of emotion again

 

Oysters $20 a pound

Oysters! Get your oysters here!

Water Cathedrals

Wind off the ocean. The thrum of the engine. All of it goes in an instant, in a shudder, a death rattle. Eerie silence settles on everyone. Suffocating. “It’s a tomb,” I say, but nobody listens. No one understands. “It’s a corpse,” I say, “And we’re inside its belly, waiting to be devoured.”

They ignore me. A machine can be fixed, they say. A machine is not a body. It can be fixed, it can be fixed. A prayer. But I know the truth and I leave them to their church.

Another death rattle. The water turns darker, darker, an inky blackness spreading out as the clouds come in. A biting wind.

The first out of the water is the crab. Or maybe it is a crab made of other crabs, I don’t know. It’s too big to be just one. Click click, it says as it passes by to the tomb. Click click, I say back. There are screams and the sky turns a little bit redder. Didn’t I tell them to leave? We are in a corpse after all and crabs like corpses.

Fish are more vicious. They come after, in all shapes and sizes. Long teeth, sharp teeth, teeth meant to tear. There’s not so much screaming now. The silence must have suffocated them, the people who thought this ship could be fixed. Machines can die too. The Titanic did. And now we are here too, all bones. Well, they are bones, but I am not. I left. Before the crabs, before the fish.

“It’s a tomb,” I say, but there is no one left to listen to me. So I swim away.


The final version of this piece was featured in Chapman University’s Calliope: Art and Literary Magazine alongside several other great pieces. Check out other issues at chapmancalliope.wordpress.com

Petrichor

petrichor (n.); a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather

We let the rain wash our sins from our hair and bring relief to sun-scorched tongues. Blackened grass bowed at our feet. Our hair whipped around our faces. The cold stung our cheeks.

You turned to me and said, “We are the queens of everything” and I laughed because it was true. Not for me, but for you, my queen of everything. I was just the humble servant girl in our little game. The one with big hopes and dreams who looked up to you and wondered if she would ever be so beautiful or wise. You caught me staring and smiled, just for a moment.

Then with eyes like gray storm clouds barely reined in, you looked up to the sky and you challenged Thor himself to a fight like only you could. He responded with claps of thunder, so loud I screamed and covered my ears. You had a smile on your face.

The rain ended. You held out your hand. I took it, feeling the rough pads of your fingers against my skin. We watched as the wind chased the clouds away and the sun came out, warming our soaked clothes. I remember thinking this was perfect. And I remember realizing how wrong I was months later when the storm clouds came back.