By Kathrin Köhler
15 October 2012
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.