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Another Dark Place
Words by Emily Paskevics
Image by Christine Stoddard
We were always afraid. Afraid to swim out too far, go too deep or stay in too long, afraid to wander from the safe escape of the beach. So we collected stones, minnows & tadpoles in our shoes, made moats or mud pies, little sandcastles instead.
Now for the crayfish-crawl of my heart into the shallow present tense. Now for clam-fist,
fish-net, & dissolution. Now just spit it out, or swallow again. And now
they are dragging the lake, searching for us.
From the black lake
I rise. Foam thick on my neck,
pearled across my collarbones, chin.
My spine is dorsal. Elbows finned. Nostrils
drip beneath my magnified eyes, over
my lukewarm lips: my mouth minnows,
tongue slicked with scales as it slips
through the narrowed spout
of my throat. My thighs
from web-tipped toes
to converge in the pond-scum
at my hips, draining more thick
blood & muck. Fertile and fetid.
My whole body bewildered
I am bellying my way
through the shallows
The beast drinks from the shallows of the lake. A leech hooks to its lip & sticks, slaking its own bloody thirst. It sucks & swells, sucks & swells, taking its fill. Taking it slow. Taking its time.
Night sinks. We push through the screen of cricket song, into the dark. The frogs also
sing —the dark, amphibious
black shallows shift
at your ankles as you walk
in, & go
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