Rax King

Pity me and the river and the sea

The Potomac swallows some every year,
choked cold full of algae or dragged into
a witch’s circle of waterlogged blossoms.

I like the squelching heft of my bullet shot
through the blubber of the river, gulped
whole by bubbles – I like my limbs caked
with the black batter of the river mud.

I tell a man, don’t worry – she’s too far
off the bay for the sputtering mouthful
of jellyfish that haunts her sister the Severn.

(seven jellyfish per cubic foot! doesn’t it
seem wicked! doesn’t that seem high!
his lips scarce enough to flip again the switch
in me that rambles about rivers and the sea.)

I am wrong in the outdoors: the bugs; the grit;
the scratches, bruises, sunburns, nicks; and
purpling meat undercooked on an open flame.

A man tells me: the Potomac is nothing. He says:
the Bering, the Arctic, Pacific, now that’s water
like Pangea was water. He says: the fish of the
Potomac are muddy like their mother, unfit to eat.

I can’t see myself but from the breasts on down,
plummeting corkscrew and naked into the river.
I know myself only legs spidering through men,

and men again – I can’t know how my face looked,
nor how it ever looks. Exhilaration? Fear? Maybe.
I can see only the algae trailing slime off my toes, and
my nails full of river mud, and a man gnatting in my ear.

It’s been years. I miss the Potomac. We don’t talk.
I smell algae-rot between my legs and I wonder
how my mother has been doing without me.

Rax King is a queer Virgo poet who has the great fortune to work with dogs. She can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @raxkingisdead. She’s been recently published in (b)OINK Zine, Five:2:One, and Epigraph Mag.

JD Thornton