Static

My friend, we are always so close to the sea,
we know too well the myth of the susurrus ocean
is just that. We have watched the water rush
like a river through the streets that house us, kiss
our top steps and retreat before it breached
our thresholds—tonight, in the light of candles,
your daughter’s breath sighs through the radio
on the table, and you tell me about the four dead women
found rotting in a ditch up the road, behind the Starlight
Motel, fully clothed, but barefoot. Heads turned east. All
mothers, all hookers, shot up with drugs. Is it a sin
of omission to try not to see the chipped pink paint
on their exposed toes, or a sin to paint
the dead in colors bearing no real blood to truth?

I pour myself more wine—ritually,
to keep the dead out—but I fail: there is the man
plucking their shredded kitten heels
from their cracked feet, still warm, sighing
with the mad relief of success. It is accomplished.
This life is not a quest, it is a series of trap doors—
your daughter whinnies through the speaker. It drowns
in the stuff of cold stars. The candle flickers
on your beautiful face and outside, a mermaid slithers
from the muck of a dead low tide, licks the tip of your steps
with her forked tongue, and, this time, turns away.

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About evanduyne

I'm assistant professor of writing at Stockton University, where I'm also affiliated faculty in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. I work on Sylvia Plath, contingent faculty, and creative writing around trauma and domestic violence.
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2 Responses to Static

  1. c salvatore says:

    Wow, Emily. This is cold, chilling, and so beautiful. So… perfectly apt for what it is like living here and how, living anywhere, the proximity of danger chills us again and again.

  2. Kat says:

    Em,
    This is one…❤️

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