Up into the Ocean

I.
In a village made for walkers and donkeys
a mother shrieks her last rites,
lifted by her neck. We cringe and wait
for the knife to return the banal afternoon.

The mother’s feathers are boiled away.
Her twice-born babies are broken
against the pot’s rim. We wait and see
her in our food while she pulls up the ocean.

II.
Trawlers and seiners etch ley lines in the surface.
Winches haul out shoals of life, making the ocean
lighter and lighter until a mother hen is killed for masala
and the sea mourns for her by inverting into the sky.

Rorqual follow the water up, natural, like a migration.
The spademen, freshly wrecked into fault lines, gaze up
from freshly arid ditches into unreachable hunting grounds.

III.
The sky does not fall to replace the empty husk of land,
just dips lower for the clouds to storm under
the exposed turquoise underbelly of the levitated ocean.

Satellites drip from orbit for coral to grow
spreading acropora transmissions across the waves.

IV.
Salmon fight down through the clouds,
against the current tying the watershed to the skies.
Their fat crimson untouched by lures.

V.
Once fishers, farmers, traders, whalers, butchers–
now only men scared of strangeness,
made foreigners on the land they once claimed.

They leave the gates and cages open at night
for the animals they once claimed to leave,
begging for no reciprocity than their subsidized dept.

VI.
Under the ocean skies, mesozoic seeds in damp crust
rise by the touch of blue sunlight.
Fungi, grasses, brambles, saplings volunteer
for the grazers and even-toed ungulates
free of nose plates, anal prods, pulley hooks, bolt pistols–
archaic tools we’ll beg never fossilize to story our barbarians.

VII.
Immigrant mink, escaping mass persecution,
nestle into the lower decks of the once unsinkable ship,
hunting mice trained to press a button for sugar and heroin.
Bees comb white coral bones, their riches dug out by grizzles.

VIII.
Allah. Apocalypse. Rapture. Attempts to transfer blame.
No one believes he has risen. Even the street-corner prophet
stops replacing his megaphone batteries. Tideless in unlocked land,
we surrender; animals are not ours to make gods for.

We do, however, live in a world made by prayers–
vociferation in whalesong, strained elk bugles,
petite shrills and acrid screeches; sick Morris code tapped,
smacked, rammed into shipdecks, barricades and barbs.
Answered by something unknown to us.

VIIII.
We drink iced tea in the yard,
watching the grackles nest in the gutters;
humpbacks drifting overhead.

First Published in The Avenue, Issue VII: Freedom, 2021

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