when I was a girl – Ariel Kusby

I dreamed of being a fisherwoman              of casting deep nets like spells

pulling up condensations of blue            at swim team my flip turns were fastest

always forgetting       to breathe first         after practice I’d pull off my cap and sink

grew out my hair long         for this moment only           for the fanning out

in dreams I’d breast stroke             across the channel in a cage

sometimes I was a shark           eventually reaching land

becoming sea foam            always afraid of missing out              on something bluer

there are whole nights             I spend in the tub

gestating in a porcelain whale’s womb              it doesn’t matter

what holds the water           as long as the water holds me

I extend this allowance to velvet           to lapis

and to my own blood        which fills my skin just right

a red tide perfectly timed            the best I can do

Ariel Kusby is a writer and bookseller based in Portland, Oregon. She currently works in the Rose and Orange rooms at Powell’s City of Books, where she pays special attention to children’s books about witches, odd cookbooks, and gnome gardening guides. You can check out her writing at www.arielkusby.com.

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