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White Grass

The Ocean Scavenger

Mariel Alonzo

On nights when the moon has fully emptied out itself

             he would watch the waltz of gnat & lizard on the ceiling

                          a distant sound of froth muffling their tongues.

When the crickets’ legs have stilled & tangled along

             with another (an amputee, with equally broken

                          music) he would pull himself up from the mat of woven

leaves feeling each bone grind against cartilage (& his cartilage

             moans ‘muscle’ & nerve tickles his tender swollen mosquito

                          bites) & he takes out his makeshift gas lamp from

an old cupboard, twisting the rubber plug free, refilling

             the oil. He pulls a small metal latch & a fire ignites

                          sputtering as he fiddled with the gas knob till he is satisfied

with the intensity (the lizard’s shadow on the wall

             flickers, as if tiny palms were pushing against its belly)

                          He straps it & a small knife on his hip holster & descends

from his stilted shack, the low tide lapping at his rubber slippers

             sand coaxing it into its crushed bed, forcing him to remove their

                          wet grip & fling them out like freed crows, stripping into flies

into night. Pumping more fuel into his lamp, he begins

             his trek, feet wade knowingly through the seaweeds, shy

                          cartographer flesh meets ocean flesh. He would reach

out for edibles, tossing them into the pail: clumps of seaweed

             cone snails, black & white sea cucumbers that he would

                          dismember first. Stooping close, his hand brushes beneath

a bleached table coral & carefully picks up a sea urchin

             his flame illuminating its dancing violet spines. Turning it over

                          he presses on the circular lining of its mouth with his thumbs

cracking it open, pouring out the violet liquid. He scrapes off

             the orange sex sacs with a finger, raising them to his lips, slipped

                          inside for tasting. From afar he sees some antlered body ascend

bursting over the surface before shattering. The pang

             of salt deserts without leaving claw marks in his throat

                          catarrh parching his mouth – how long, since his gas ran out?




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