This is a cry for help. No one will hear. Their outline is more than their content. I turned them over on my tongue and in my hands like a prayer, hoping someone puts the echo in a back pocket.
I know better – this cry will fall to the ground alongside the woman who fell off the ladder and broke her back while fixing a roof. It’s not even her house, but she casts her power on other people, only for rodents to make their nests inside her work.
My cries for help are left open like legs in a shady motel room at night; anyone can come and take what they will. My body is left in the honeymoon suite, with the roaches and stained sheets and cheap whiskey. I am gross when I emerge, but last night, my bra was pink and see-through, and my nipples were proud war trophies. The morning comes, and I have lost what was desirable.
I am a girl of three tongues, but no language can save the soul that tears like a plastic bag full to the edge with boxes and sharp objects. I didn’t birth from the silver spoon – I sharpened and ate it whole. My throat is a scalpel, my mind a cadaver. Some days, I just want to bathe in the blood.
I consume people like amphetamines when the great numbness isn’t enough to keep me subdued. They become spectators to my damage, the willful kind that picks my brain apart after having watched me mutilate it in the name of repression. They are not scared; they should be. They are fascinated by my display. They’ve never seen a Lazarus in the flesh. It’s beautiful to them, what I can do to myself when I am hurting.
My arms are a timeshare, a map of lanes that travel in and out of land masses like Pangea and Ur. People begin to see me as a continent, a super continent to build their homes. They fill me with plywood, stick a magnifying glass in my navel as they use me for structure, schadenfreude, and inspiration.
I try to say. I am not a continent. I am not a home. I am not even a sun god to pray to in red-hot passion. I am a super ocean, but no one cares about the ocean. History books don’t even teach others to call me by name.
This is a duet for no one; because my pelvis has been replaced by several roofs as chunks of hip and thigh unearth more islands for them to colonize.
Of course, the ocean in me sits there. The ocean in me is worthless garbage. All she’s good for is making the world warm with the things she never says. My face is hidden behind a phantom mask, but no one ever sees my face; no one respects the ocean enough to look into her feeble blue eye.
I forget, sometimes, what it’s like to be wanted – not needed, not practical, but wanted: to be held and kissed on the mountain that is my temple; to have someone part my tree branch hair and weed out the stale leaves; I want a basin to house me the way I do others, to push back the bruised terrain and rehabilitate the coastline running from my neck to my thighs.
I drain and crack like land, an in the process, forget all these things I want. It doesn’t matter when people lean on my capes and expect me to support their weight.
This is how the ocean dies: in front of eyes that love to document its suffering.
I can hope someone finds my undiscovered depths and takes the lung-crushing dive to the bottom of me to discover the other wonders. I’m not sure what those wonders are, but I have to believe they’re great enough to make me more than an artful watercolor
An attraction candle sits on my dresser the way foam sits upon a wave. It is unlit and sanguine red, though I may never have cause to light it. The ocean is pretty but unlovable; magic cannot alter the facts of nature, and the fact is, the ocean isn’t the problem.
The problem is me. I am murky and gross, the broom to sweep up roach droppings, the hands that clasp the pink bra in time for the color to fade.
I grew up being told no one would ever love an ocean because we are too great and know too much about being vast to be human girls again. I now know this to be true; I am too broken to be loved or even helped.
When the continents split, it caused me so much pain. It didn’t matter. I don’t think it ever will. This is a cry for help, but no one will save the ocean when she rises to die.
ANASTASIA JILL (ANNA KEELER) is a queer poet and fiction writer living in the greater Orlando area. Her work has been published or is upcoming with Poets.org, Deep South Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Dual Coast Magazine, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Foglifter Press, Drunk Monkeys, and more.