The Survival of Fishes
There’s a ship inside my stomach,
its sails set to drown, to crash and splinter
like the wood of the boats I sank, all those
men evaporated into shards, into rubble,
Tell me: do Krakens eat the souls of women
who never wanted to be sirens?
Because I don’t remember what it felt like
to breathe air, the gills in my neck a skin flap
of waterproof life, this the survival of fishes,
of ladies who can’t smile without showing
their teeth, their knives, their songs.
Inside the waves, there are faces, waterlogged
hands, wrinkled and pruned, but not mine,
never mine. My skin, a metallic green mixed
with the silver of fish hooks, my eyes
the shimmering pearls of fossilized tears,
the mourning of disbelief.
Yet, inside the coral, the shells of my people wait,
here, the magic, the glamour of my kind. Watch
as I mystify, as I perform the seduction of the tide:
I give them a little, I take it back. I cut them
in half, I swallow them whole.
I wonder: is there a hell made for the bones of
girls who were stolen before their time? A fire
for the water that burned what’s left of my humanity?
Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, and Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.