Ellen Welcker (Goddard College, US)
Lying on our back we see dozens of whales flying overhead. As graceful in air as we imagine them in water. Swoop and soar. Their eye comes close to ours. Eye like a word. What is it.
Eye school of minnows. Eye flock of swallows. No blinking. A shimmer.
Trying to remember. How the ocean got in our eye. When was the last time we blinked.
In blinking a quick night, a black sea, a deep deep. Heavy. Colder still. Then upping and open, the bright wind, the cold sun! Oh, where.
A whale whose whereabouts are unknown. It’s hard to be honest. A whale is a mythical creature, an hour of our dream. A salmon returns like a hero but may not stay long. A blankening. Acidifying. A sea. A lack of oxygen and no oysters and so many snails. But shells are unformed skulls, too soft. A salmon is gone and only then. We are saying, o yes, we remember now.
Ours has a single braided horn. Ours lives on the sun. Ours will die if we are not very careful.
Trying to remember and being full of care. From below, a chin is a nose and a frown is a clown’s. This makes everyone laugh. There’s a shifting and a settling. When right side up, our cracks are filling. A seed might settle there, even a weed. Perseverance is key. In time, a greening, possibly a blossoming. All cracks are openings. A chasm is a place for fullness.
Full as the flowers, bee-less now. Bees, fragile bees, trucked in combs. Too much rain. Or not hungry. Full as the forest of false brome. For the caribou. They don’t like it.
We have a blowfish emotion.
Never seen a silver lining but oh, so golden. Ours is a holding.
The skinks the salamanders. Unguttering bellydown. Warm asphalt our legs. Fingers drag the pipe the jelly bodies.
A ragged banter. Grey and squirrel-high in our chest. Nest. Pine needle inflammatory.
Lizards in the lava our shadows. We learn to approach the sun our face. A mad egoism: their glittering tails twitching under our thumbs.
Trying to remember. A wet sky a landing. Consider it. A falling down, skinned up sky. A fullness, falling. Not barren. A hot sky, a desert, a mirage. A rain, a sky hovering. What keeps from greening. Lightening.
The light onion heads the dark onion heads are female. The lines so beautiful stretching out. We must be. Sky head, earth worm. Staying within the lines.
Shadows of mammals, clumped together like vegetation. These halcyon days. At most amidst an almost fear. Our atmosphere.
Gone. Our dust-wake rolls. Through the barrio, we and our dust-wake together. Are rolling. Squeezed in the back of a Chevy Luv, cielo blue.
Past a dead pond dyed azul. Algae y seaweed and pescado. Breaded. Deep-fried. A girl, clambering.
Into the backseat con nosotros, announcing. El embarazado. We have una corazonada. Our brother esta el padre. Repeating phrases, un chico en dos languages. Una alegria. We are overcome. For all the clambering. We are wrapping un brazo around the pregnant girl, other arm alrededor de rest.
The people in el camion. We are hugging and hugging them. The atmosphere does not press upon the closeness. The atmosphere does not impel a loneliness. Esta atmosfera is for everything else.
It is for the baby y las lenguas and the dust-wake. It is for the deadly and the pond dyed blue. This atmosphere es por las algas and the brotherfather. The hugging and the hugging. The girl and the rest. One arm. Overcoming. For the clambering.
For the barrio and the backseat. At most we fear. Now, now. There, there.
In search of temporary easing. Things that pacify. Feel better. A good snow year. A snag thick with bald eagles. A changing of seasons. Ants. Look purposeful. A disaster can be a relief. So soothing. Happened.
So we scan the beach for agates. Hold and run and hope for the tide to come in. The ocean absorptive, corrosive. The too-soft skulls. Metal-fish. Oilybodies. Glaciermelt. A rising. We will eat jellyfish one day.
Coral: a color. Salmon: a color. Sky: a color of blue. When do they stop beings.
A great horned owl could say to us, “soon you will cry.” Would we hear that correctly? Would we fear hearing? We could just as soon hear, “you will eat the belly of something.” We have to listen. The disappeared have not gone anywhere.
Please. Oh please, we say. Please, in the dark. Please, alone. Please, in a group we feel no part of. Please, stories of awfulness. Please, for the ones we love. Please, for the ones we want to love. Please, for our places. Please, please, please. We ask. We ask. Believing, not believing.
Believing to believe meaning one of two things: an answer is yes or no.
Our hair entwining with others’ hair, locking and nesting in dustpans and drains. Our whorls pressing against others’ whorls, a resistance that means am. Are. Ours.
An algal bloom in our auricles. Lonesome whorls and calluses thick to protect us from feeling. One hand on one heart and one hand on one belly. One hand on one forehead and one hand on one breast. One hand behind one back and one hand waving. One hand out one window and one hand clenched. One finger pointing. One finger down our throat. One finger in our lover. One hand in one pocket. One and one and one and on and on and on without e.
The most beautiful word is estuary. A pushing and pulling place. Of muck and gooey duck. A wet and a sandy, a wild-haired and a runny nose. A place where hard or craggy or damp or prickly. Only smooth inside of a mussel.
Muscling our way. For a faraway. Lightening. A really way. A struggle means resistance. Means a pushing and a pulling way. Means a touching a reaching. Means a meeting.
In between forefinger thumb is an egg. A veined egg very thin, blue, not to crush it. A cord trails egg to body. Little pulpy body so a cradle in the one and a twisting an untwisting between forefinger thumb a little light illuminates a luminous an eggshell quality.
Searching the body for sensical. Skullbumps. Elbow like a windblown desert. Desertification. Of our terrain. A drying. Crying. Doesn’t help.
Our skull, its occipital plates, are our only Pangaea. Its tensions. Cracks. At times aching to slip, to sea. Our borders knit.
Lungs are an ocean that fills and recedes, fills and recedes. Tidepools of words, filling, receding. Drying, dying. Wetness is salty as tears. Heart is an ocean that fills and recedes, fills and recedes. Wordpools, swirling, alive. Full. Empty. Full.
Finally, find a node. The whorls find it. Inner ankle bone. A greening. Possibly a blooming. So low, but still.
Still trying. To remember. We. Are burying their names in glass jars. We are. Arranging the stones on the bottom of the creek. We are so hours and hours. We are ours.
Wet is the substance between us.
Ellen Welcker is pursuing her master’s degree in Creative Writing at Goddard College in Port Townsend, Washington. In the meantime, she lives and works quite temporarily in the Biggest Little City in the World, also known as Reno, Nevada.