Free salmacis from bodies not hers and free the mirror from its rocky wall and free the sand from its bound service grief a pearl my wealth is pearls then they dissolve

Danielle Pafunda


Give a poor salmacis a break every body I see I leap into atypical naiad I just need
to check out of personhood’s blaring bleak motel maybe I’m just here for contrast / high / I
checked into this fountain whose lobby was the sea god’s home open his door guarded
by horseshoes and mantas and what are there but mirrors I sat topless for hours who knows
if he was even home but I knew how to get into the following locations: reflections selfies
profile pics the water soft sides bed and bed and bed again in the era of looking / for something
in the mirror / had gone bloodred and hasty I needed to be no no one nunh numb it was a
democracy of misplacement the names I usually called out slurred with names I didn’t know
yet the names I was going to need very soon I lay myself down and said go please go
grainy fountain and gone pale food or sex or coffee or posts I don’t know how to feel
anything I’m saying I feel a cold red ghost where there used to be a lot of / time / welling up
thoughts indistinct from vanes feathered thoughts soft look until fired where was that artemis
who’d come to dinner I looked into the sea god’s mirrors where they lined up with the night sky
in the fountain where a fat fish refused fortune in the fish’s belly in its score of bones that read
like leaves and then I looked online for her / be / my tender friend / there / I want you to stand
another apex joining silk route to route silk root the moths cut so and spilled from cocoons ravel
me I want you to web my center out to the horizon please






I can’t check out I’m wasting so much money every time I roll over we’re that much closer
to the edge my sons and daughters don’t go hungry yet I’m the demeter who will get everything
wrong in time never get it all wrong at once don’t travel the road from desert to sea more
than once if you want to die a proper dead thing the gristle of feeling ebbing off into smudge
with your name and your bee’s breath there are too too many hummingbirds between
the door and the gate there are too many messengers all their messages a type of / blood type
every letter I type into my phone slips loose and pools / my own reflection is enough
penitentiary for one life don’t make me go in there / my tender friends don’t make me go / on






I sat topless for hours the cheer of my body multiplied fantastically far back into the sea
gods’ home scared me not I’d been in them and where was where were the muscle
cold dancers troupe artemis all action and arms up arms up when you lay a body down
with arms up the arms reach when you lift a body up the arms trail when you wrap
her arms around you find yourself inside and wonder if this were the room you meant
to check into this solution / check a box that changes your whole premise / check the right
box and suddenly






pretty-horned and ivy-skeined those dappled things that make a face its own heart the warm
look when the moon is blue and the screen is blue and no one sleeps for either sight I
can’t really see my bull-faced tender friend in here he’s too big for mirrors decked in petals
salt streaming from his hide and horns pointed north they turn his head away and from
behind seafoam laps his temples who is it who turned to seafoam last I wonder was it
was it one of the mothers out here tracking her child from the desert to the sea we aren’t sovereign yet say the mothers aren’t sated this night is the night a knife nicked an artery
and again and again this heavy night with its swollen moon dragged down in the sky a
roaring wrong lot of blood hands from all directions defensive wounds on a night like this
it isn’t right to answer the phone anyhow or to think about how to get out of a body and back
into a self it isn’t right when these boys get turned to cold red foam and washed out spit out
the god of hate and spit in the eye of the god of hate and spit in the sea where it makes
a merry sound of sibling / hood my tender friends I won’t lose track of a single one of you
tho the shore is far and sea on rise


Danielle Pafunda is author of nine books including The Book of Scab (Ricochet Editions), the forthcoming Spite (Ahsahta Press 2020), the forthcoming Beshrew (Dusie Press 2019), and The Dead Girls Speak in Unison (Bloof Books 2017). She’s currently Visiting Assistant Professor of poetry and poetics at the University of Maine.



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