Illustration: train going off the rails to be eaten by fish


i choke on saltless air in a city with a name
that burns my mouth. it rains for five days
and i flood with the drains, hold myself
corrosion-heavy, empty out over my fellow
invaders: the sharp pale shells and the muddy
flash of foreign carp under storms that
gather over the dark lake. i’m bleeding from
the same yellow-pearl flesh. thunder leaves
my voice raw and white for hours, but
the water wants me to love that pain, too.
this city rusts away, consuming itself.
lake effect, says the weather report, and
get used to it, say the drowned train tracks.
if i’m making a shelter here, it’s one
that won’t welcome me home. the rain
on the surface doesn’t want me or the shells.
our bodies are too solid to be prey; no
predator has teeth sharp enough to pierce us.
if we die, through the shallows you’ll see
underwater shadows of mass-produced
gravestones. marrow-empty bone. unseen
lightning. what is foreign, eating away
at the remainder.

Ayame Whitfield lives in Massachusetts, attends school in New Jersey, and writes intermittently. Some of the following are true about Ayame: might actually be a moth, collects exorbitant amounts of polyhedral dice, drinks far too much tea, and can be found as @avolitorial on Patreon and most social media.

Leaping Fish illustration by C.B. Auder (magazine collage, 8-1/2 x 7 inches).

NEXT – Sightings at the Pick-a-Pearl Market


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