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So this is how it feels to have salt in one's wounds.
I crouch in the froth of the ocean; I immerse my palms in the saliva of the lapping waves.
There are particles of sand clutching my kneecaps,
pressing against the coarse, red skin that blankets those gentle bones.
The sky is not blue.
Shells drift by, in and out, rolling and eroding,
eternally caught between cracking on the salty shore
and sleeping numbly beneath miles of black water.
There was a seagull nibbling a piece of French fry;
it was there and then it was gone as the sea spit foam much too close for the bird's comfort.
Me, I pull the sea.
I twist it into braids and I fasten it around the crown of my head,
for there it is welcome and there it will stay.
There is no water like that of the ocean.
There are no creatures like that of the sea;
so soft, so fragile as the octopus extends four of its many invertebrate arms
to suffocate a lobster the color of dry blood and rust.
I watch the sun, although I can barely feel it
for the wind whips around my body, so cold,
leaving the partially-shaven hairs on my arms to curl their spines and stand on end.
"You are so small," says the sun to me,
a smudge of pastel on the grey canvas in the sky.
I nod. Yes, I am thinking.
Yes, how small I must seem.
A bottle washes up beside me,
a regurgitated gift from the belly of my Pacific.
I touch its edges, so dull from Her care.
The glass, once a seaweed green to match its liquid undertaker,
now resembles the color of growing foliage, or cultivated fungus,
a Greek olive soaked in vinegar.
I hold the bottle away from my face and gaze at the figure reflecting back.
It is pale, gawky, distorted in the curved glass,
with dinner-plate eyes that seem to cradle water like a Solo cup.
A genuine nose with soft edges,
pink lips, teeth like white marble, a tongue.
A human tongue; a human face with human-being features.
But what is it?
What am I, a girl,
a creature with vertebrae that stands on two large, unpainted feet?
The bottle slips from my fingers, but I do not watch,
nor do I strain an ear to listen as the Pacific swallows and growls
There is silence, invisible silence blanketing the shore.
The sky is not blue and there are ghosts in the sea,
and there are decomposing skeletons of flightless birds that have been cleaned
of flesh by monsters that have not yet been discovered.
I am beginning to feel rain upon my face,
dripping, casting streaks of freshwater
down the planes of my body.
“You are so small,” says the sun to me.
I am no one, I think.