Pearls on a Branch
I grew up moving in small forward bursts
like an ornate squid.
Rubbing my head on rough walls
in an attempt to whittle it aerodynamic.
Appearing to occasionally burble a word
that means “equal,” or “inferior,” or “not me.”
A broken string of puckered pearls in my left hand at all times,
lining each finger like sucking cephalopod legs.
Something sharp and black at my center.
A beak that was never a bird’s.
Where is her brain in all that mush?
Which side of her is “up”?
Hungry like a shoal.
Thirsty like a fish is not.
A slew of appendages trailing away in trophic space,
having grown each one back.
Underside like an exposed throat.
Hematite in all of my clefts.
If a fish is simply a man that hasn’t grown legs,
then what is she?
Femininity embedded in a shellfish.
An unexpectedly amphibious delight.
I was once a quadripus
who found it illogical
to breathe air when everything is simply sopping
and poked pufferfish to induce verdant dreams.
Such imperative ease to my limbs,
I decided to grow four more.
Karoline Schaufler is a Pacific Northwest writer from Bellingham, Washington. She is a recent graduate from the MA English program at Western Washington University where she studied rhetoric and composition and learned the word “ekphrastic.”