Unincorporated Arapahoe County, Colorado
Through mantle, earth, gender, air
through false stories and true
undistracted by pectin, pucker, time
scale, sugar, seed, dripped rainbow of
oil, prism, crushed berry residue,
om of home, acid, oxygen song—
I grip jelly jars to my eyes
mock binocular my way to You—
I open a tin of sardines, roll down the lid,
for a moment they look alive, fragrant
in the oil, I will not eat them, how
my father loved their salt and bone.
To love —like all infinitives, free
from tense and subject.
My brother reads to me, To gut the trout,
slit the abdomen, slice off the head.
Catch without release. Instructions fail
to prevent intestines spilling into air.
To catch—like all infinitives, bound
by form and limit.
My son screams, I hate salmon!
His voice uncorks the atmosphere.
I wish salmon never existed!
The smell is everywhere!
To hate—like all infinitives, unlimited
utterance facing obsolescence.
Such mermaid hair, my lover teases
as we sun on the deck, topless,
wet locks and soon-to-be licked
skin beyond the sight of land.
To be—like all infinitives, subject
to ebb and rise, evanescence.
Jelly jar glasses do not help me see or find
but they reveal how little I
see, how little I find, so blind,
how dark is our daylight,
ocular oracles blur meaning—
forgive my ogling, my eye’s yodeling,
how else can I believe how much
I am not seeing
Ichthys, meaning fish, ubiquitous
was first a fertility symbol—vertically.
Two curving arcs, crossing,
reminiscent of every woman’s
‘fishy’ glory and world womb within.
Shape of almond, boat, lemon, eye,
flower, yoni, cry mine newly christa if ever
we meet, pet, nuzzle sap, agree on overlap.
Vertical to horizontal, womb to fish,
female to male—why the flip-flop?
who’s the fry chef? How much spin
til we lose our hats? Blow our tops?
Imagine a world-blown pregnancy.
Womb, be fruitful. Sashay the sea.
Mother, sister, friend, daughter,
shake my hips, slake my lips,
slip me moon consort, for our planet too
is round round as breasts, round as
bellies, round as roe, round as berry
go round, all fall down, notes suckling
mouths, mewlings, moonsoothed sea,
school to sleep—Crone wise, Girl wild,
silent Partner, Love Mama, how to pray?
Sin-smear my mouth with smash of fruit,
seeding lips with keys of longing —
Knock, unlock, anyone home?
Thousand-petaled lotus, blooming in the mud
suggests the spin is perpetual, constant as the sun
each fish a petal, petal an eye, eye a leaf,
leaf a door, door a boat, boat a fish, fish a scale
I could go on but no matter number, name,
reach for a numinous more manifest
I cannot reach infinity, divinity I am
so finite, so limbed, it’s hard to wake up
having dreamt of utter beauty strung
as an instrument I cannot describe
beyond hand-hewn uniting of wood and metal,
male and female, forward and backward, fish and scale,
turn and still, pluck and sweep, psalm and palm
aquiver as thumb harp joins finger zither
achieving union in one hand at least
I am only one hand, where is my mate
what is the sound of humanity clapping
I try to strum what does not exist
and the missing music makes me
My jelly jar glasses expire
from too much longing
colliding with gravity.
I bury the shards in my yard.
Maybe they will grow
into a preserved fruit tree
no one can see.
to not see
the infinitive I am left with
a fish walking out of water
Krista J.H. Leahy is the co-author of Nothing But Light (Circling Rivers, 2022). Her poetry has appeared in The Common, Denver Quarterly, Free Lunch, Raritan, Reckoning, Tin House, and elsewhere. Her prose has appeared in Clarkesworld, Farrago’s Wainscot, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy and elsewhere. She would like to thank both Banff and Vermont Studio Center for the gift of time. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.