When I swam up to you, your small floating round, half cockle, a flash of weight on the surface, the limbs of it crashing in a song reaching even to the bottom of my canyon, singing, a troubled one approaches, all you could see perhaps if you were looking was a surfacing of dulst, shining and dark bodied. I saw the crest of your hair, creature of strange floating coral, lashing, relashing the body of it back together with your hands. I know what man is. I know the white, strange yellow-white of the arcs of you when you fall off your corals and fall apart. I know what land is. I have seen the black heat of the bottom breathe into rocks that will not be overtaken, not for generations and generations of great singing ones, mouths tufted with teeth. I keep losing the songs. Sometimes, the men sing, but you are not singing. I know what I am. I have eaten men in my time. It was convenient, and I was hungry, and the men were already dead. I know drowning. It is what happens when your nature becomes wrong. All of my family drowned high on the rocks, too old, too broken-scaled to reach the next wave off the land we swam to, as if hunger had an end outside our element. I am stronger for now, but you are not. Your hair catches light and shatters it. I know what light is. I have watched for a long time. I used to try to help men, as I would an old singer menaced by blank-eyed bone mouths. Fanciful of me, really. The bottom of my canyon is silt and stopped ones, some to white, some to nothing. I will know what your end tastes of. I know what I sing.
Matilda Young lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is a third year poet in the Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Maryland. She currently works as a paralegal in appellate law, where the lawyers are great, but there is a depressing dearth of adjectives.
She is at all times experiencing a low-level but undeniable craving for the queso and freshly made 50-cent flour tortillas served by Taco Cabana in Houston, preferably served with an orange Fanta, but the flavor of Fanta is negotiable.
Back to Issue 4: Hungry Things