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The Abyssal Zone

ISSUE:  Winter 2021

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.


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