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December 10, 2018 Poetry

Two Poems

Elliott Sky Case

Two Poems photo

nereid, compromised

i love it when the ocean
pulls at me,
takes me
wherever she wants to go

i’m a child, waving
my arms and legs
around in the stuff i’m made from

the doctor who prescribes
my contact lenses
warns that if seawater
gets in my eyes
it can breed
a flesh-eating microbe
that quickly leads to blindness

i still haven’t bought goggles
i try to keep my head above
the surface, spitting out
drops that fall into my mouth

it’s harder to swim when you worry

you can’t feel how hard
the ocean works
your muscles
until you pull yourself
up out of the waves

stumbling on rough sand,
grown human again, weighted
with worry and coated in salt



Day One

In the pocket of my mother’s old coat, I found a sobriety chip: Serenity Prayer on the back, 24 HOURS on the front. “I must have gotten a lot of those,” she laughed when I told her on the phone. She’d lent me the coat to wear for the colder winter up here. I rubbed my fingers across gold letters I knew by heart.

When I was a kid, I read a story where a witch had made a bottomless hole. The hole lured everything into its depths and still hungered. My mother told me addicts treat everything like a drug—the reason she forgets meals while she’s writing; how my father  in his youth could play guitar for nine straight hours; why the need for human approval can eat me.

In photographs of them together, my parents shine. They once threw Christmas bulbs at each other; they still made a beautiful couple. Instead of picturing myself the product of two bottomless holes, the child of water and a grease fire, I try to see this heirloom as something else: a relentless stream of prayer, an unfaltering refrain, a mountain of medallions for continuing to try.

image: Raegan Bird