Amphibious

You meet me at the bridge and ask me to discard my scales. Urgently: you say it’s time for me to join you above. It’s simple, you say, just pull them out like so many fingernails. You do not have them, so you do not know. You’ve given me no clippers so I must dig in and rip them out from the root.

It takes hours. You grow bored, you drowse beneath a tree nearby. My blood stains the swamp and it bubbles in my wounds. I’m cleansed by black water tannins. My sides and legs shredded and oozing, I roll onto the riverbank. You gather me up in the net of your arms.

You have a place for me in a nice suburban home. I’ll have a family: someone to look after me each day. There is awe and love in your eyes. I have hidden my gills; I hope that as I learn to breathe your air, they do not fall away.

Cosmology in Her Skin

I now allow myself to write
those velvet throats, those waves of female form,
without discrediting the work
as politic instead of rather than also poetic.

I touch a woman and learn long dead languages, taste her breath and tides pull me under,
where the ocean names my atoms
reminds me all I’d know
if the Earth herself were my politics.

The swamp is my reliquary, and deep within, death and life and death sing across the waters.
She too carries this candor, her body equally unnavigable without submission. I’ve learned this:
How could I see the naked world

and wish it clothed? How could I breathe good air filtered over light years, bequeathed to me by the stars I count beside my lover,

and wish to bottle it? Nothing, not poetry, not politics, will spare me if I cannot spare her.