Sometimes it’s seaweed in your throat you can’t cough out
or an ink cloud expanding in your skull. Sometimes it’s primal
like the force of an oyster making a pearl to protect itself
after a harvester surgically implants its poison, or the heart
growing a tumor that can’t be extracted without killing you,
or pressure crushing your lungs to fists deep underwater.
Sometimes, you sink so far down from the sun your tongue
bloats like an anglerfish floating in a well, lost, unable to breathe
or speak, but each day you feel it trying to say something
about the shining dead language it once knew, watch its cells
burst into blue specks of light when you open your mouth.
A tiny syllable. Then darkness again. But each time a little bluer,
a little more like the home you’ve forgotten, my stranger
looking back at me from the mirror, just wanting me to reach
through and hold you.