Some to Nothing by Matilda Young

                                                               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

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